Toby Keith's three kids tried to fight back tears as a trio of country and rock icons paid tribute to their father at the 2024 CMT Music Awards.

It didn't work.

Stelen, Shelley and Krystal Covel were all crying by the time Roger Clemens nudged the crowd to shout, "Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses."

  • Brooks & Dunn, Sammy Hagar and Lainey Wilson sang during the Toby Keith tribute at the CMTs on Sunday (April 7).
  • MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, Lucas Nelson and Riley Green also spoke about the late singer's influence.
  • Keith died after a battle with stomach cancer on Feb. 5.

Related: Read Toby Keith's Son Stelen's Speech at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Wearing a baseball hat that read "Toby," Clemens opened up with tribute with a story about his friend refusing to sing a favorite song among University of Texas students, even after losing a bet and promising he would.

His loud introduction set the tone for a tribute that was anything but somber.

2024 CMT Music Awards - Show
Hubert Vestil, Getty Images

Brooks & Dunn — who announced Toby Keith would join the Country Music Hall of Fame in March — sang "Should've Been a Cowboy" to start, with both Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks taking a verse. Cameras flashed to the three Covel children early on, and youngest daughter Krystal was already wiping away a tear.

Sunday night's tribute wasn't a traditional medley in that songs didn't roll one into the next. Hagar spoke about the good times he had with Keith before beginning a very loose rendition of "I Love This Bar."

"It's hard to get thrown out of your own bar and we managed to do that," he shared.

Nelson and Green then took the stage to introduce Lainey Wilson. She sang "How Do You Like Me Now?"

Getty Images
Getty Images

Had the moment ended there, fans and Keith's children would have gotten out with only a dribble of tears. This was much more a celebration than a remembrance, after all.

But then the Rocket started thanking Keith's wife Tricia (not present) for sharing her husband with the world and everyone lost it.

2024 CMT Awards Red Carpet — See Country Music's Best Dressed

See country music's best dressed from the 2024 CMT Music Awards red carpet. The 2024 CMT Music Awards were on Sunday (April 7), live from Austin, Texas.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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