As Walker Hayes soaked up the bright lights, fun and great music of the CMT Music Awards earlier this week, he admitted that there was something more somber in the back of his mind.
While he gave his debut performance on this year’s show, he was actually originally scheduled to play at the CMTs for the first time back in 2018. However, due to a devastating family tragedy, he never made it to the stage. The same day as the show -- June 6 -- he lost his newborn daughter, Oakleigh, who died in childbirth.
“Yeah, being here has that twinge of a little PTSD,” he told People on the carpet of this year’s CMTs, four years later. However, he added, “So much redemption has happened since then.”
The difficult birth that claimed Oakleigh’s life also nearly killed Walker’s wife, Laney, who suffered a ruptured uterus.
Fortunately, Laney has made a complete recovery, and she walked the CMTs carpet at her country superstar husband’s side in 2022. After the show, Walker tweeted out a snapshot of them together, writing, “Did you guys see Laney at the [CMT AWards] Monday night,” along with a “heart eyes” emoji.
“We lost a child, but Laney and I gained so much since then,” Walker told People, reflecting back on the years since Oakleigh’s death.
These days, Walker and his family -- including Laney, their six children and their dogs -- are out on the road together for the singer’s Fancy Like Tour.