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Blake Shelton Shared a Heartfelt Tribute to Late Country Star Toby Keith

Shelton called the fellow Oklahoman a ''friend, hero, and an inspiration.''

By Jackie Manno

Country legend Toby Keith died on February 6, 2024 at the age of 62 from stomach cancer. And his peer, former The Voice Coach Blake Shelton, took to his official Instagram page that day to share a thoughtful tribute. 

Blake Shelton's tribute to Toby Keith

''Even though I knew about your battle these last few months I still never imagined this day. Anyone who knew you knows what I mean. You were the toughest man I ever met. Thank you, brother, for being a friend, a hero and an inspiration. There will never be another Toby Keith,'' he insightfully wrote on his Instagram Story.

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Blake Shelton accepts an award on stage during the Peoples Choice Country Awards

Toby Keith and Blake Shelton at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards

Shelton and Keith have another connection, as Shelton presented the fellow Oklahoman with the ''Country Music Icon'' Award at the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards

''We’re overjoyed to honor legendary artist Toby Keith with the first-ever 'Country Icon' Award,” said Cassandra Tryon, the SVP of entertainment live events at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “As a talented songwriter and powerhouse performer, Keith has touched the hearts of fans across the globe. His illustrious career and passion for philanthropy has cemented his place as an icon in country music history.”

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When Keith went up to accept the award, he gave a grateful speech. ''I bet y'all never thought you'd see me in skinny jeans,'' he quipped. ''I want to thank the Almighty for allowing me to be here tonight. He's been riding shotgun with me for a little while. I want to thank my beautiful families here." 

He continued, thanking ''All the great musicians that have played on these albums in the studios, they've poured their heart and soul into what I do. And most of all, I want to thank the fans for still allowing us to do what we do.''

Watch his speech here. 

Keith then went on to perform a rendition of his 2018 tune ''Don't Let the Old Man In,'' which lyrics tell the story of coping with aging. It was one of his first performances after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, and his wife, Tricia Lucus, teared up during the performance, according to E!

Watch his emotional performance here