Country singer Kane Brown fought back tears as he honored his late drummer, Kenny Dixon, while accepting an award at the CMT Artists of the Year ceremony just four days after Dixon's death.
Dixon, 27, died in a single-car crash in Christiana, Tennessee, on Oct. 12, just a month before he was set to marry his fiancée, Sarah Hedrick, on Nov. 30 in his home state of Georgia. He had been with Brown's band since their early days of playing before small crowds.
"I want to dedicate this to my drummer Kenny," Brown said at Wednesday's awards show as his voice quavered. "People didn’t think we would make it.
"He was with me the whole time. He was so supportive of me. I love you, man. I miss you. The band misses you."
Brown's friend and fellow country artist Chris Young presented him with the award after acknowledging Dixon's tragic death.
"Understandably, a lot of us can't even imagine what he's going through, but right now he felt it was really important to be here tonight,'' Young said while introducing Brown.
Fellow country star Thomas Rhett asked for prayer in memory of Dixon during the CMT ceremony before bowing his head in silence.
"I just want to lift up Kane and his family," Rhett said. "And I want to lift up his drummer and their family. Can I just pray, really fast? Is it OK with everybody?"
Brown also paid tribute to Dixon with a heartfelt Instagram message on Sunday.
"Love you so much dude!!!'' he wrote. "You started all of this with me from the start in 2015 when nobody else believed we would make it out of Chattanooga playing for 500 people and your last show was in a Fn Stadium my guy. I know u will be watching over us with that redneck accent that we all love and you will never be replaced bro!!! I promise u that!!"
A preliminary report released on Monday by the Tennessee Highway Patrol found that Dixon was speeding when his 2016 Kia ran off the road on a highway about 40 miles southeast of Nashville and struck a tree head on, according to The Tennesseean.
Neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected in the crash and no criminal charges have been filed, the police told The Tennessean.
After paying tribute to Dixon at the CMT awards show, Brown thanked everyone for their support in the wake of his loss.
"I love the country community,'' he said. "God bless you guys. Y'all stay safe. I love y'all."