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Toby Keith’s Son Stelen Says Late Country Singer Was His ‘Guiding Star’: ‘Goodbye for Now’

Toby Keith‘s son, Stelen Covel, is remembering his late father‘s “impact” days after his death.

The 27-year-old shared a lengthy tribute via Instagram on Thursday, February 8, alongside a childhood photo of himself swimming with his dad. “You are the strongest man I have ever known. A fighter. A true titan of your industry. My guiding star. My coach. My hero,” Covel wrote. “An embodiment of the American Spirit.”

Covel continued: “You are a man whose strength, prowess, and talent could only be trumped by his ability to be a father and husband. Your impact is forever stamped on the world and on millions of people, yet not one person knew you the way I did. You were my biggest champion and the guiding light in my darkest times.”

He went on to call Keith “the best mentor” before celebrating the mark he made on the country music world. “You held a passion that was greater than mountains and it radiates through every lyric and chord. In the everlasting echo from the legacy of your music, you leave me strength and faith to lean on in the silence that follows,” Covel wrote. “You truly did it your way, from the starting gates to the finish line, and never apologized for it.”

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Covel ended his message on an emotional note, adding, “The only thing I truly ever wanted in life was to make you proud. I promise I will continue to make you proud. It’s not goodbye forever; it’s just goodbye for now. I love you cowboy. 🤠🤍.”

His wife, Haley Covel, sent Stelen a sweet note in the comments section, writing, “Thank you for sharing him with me 🤍 I love you.”

She penned a tribute of her own to Keith via Instagram on Thursday, calling her father-in-law “larger than life at home and on stage” while sharing a glimpse of the twosome together on her and Stelen’s wedding day. “He walked me down the aisle in 2021 to marry his son. 🤍,” she wrote. “Thank you for all of the prayers for our family during this time.”

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Keith died on Monday, February 5, at age 62 after battling stomach cancer. According to a statement shared via his social media accounts, Keith “passed peacefully” with his family by his side.

Toby Keith Son Remembers His Guiding Star in Emotional Tribute Stelen Keith Covel
Stelen Keith Covel and Toby Keith Courtesy of Stelen Keith Covel/Instagram

The country artist revealed his diagnosis in June 2022, telling fans that he was taking a step away from life on the road after six months of “chemo, radiation and surgery.”

Keith shared an update on his health one year later. “I’m feeling pretty good. Basically, everything is in a real positive trend. You never know with cancer, so you have to prepare,” he told The Oklahoman in June 2023. “I’ve got more wind. And I’m thinking about bringing the band in and setting up, playing two or three days somewhere just to see if I can get through two hours. All I gotta do is see if I can get through two or three nights of work and get a little break in this chemo, and we’ll go back to work.”

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At the time, Keith said that his blood tests had been improving and that his tumor had shrunk significantly in size. “I expect next time I look for that tumor to be even less,” he added.

Keith’s country music peers and fellow celebs have publicly mourned the major loss in the days after his death. The singer’s longtime friend Brett Favre detailed their final conversation while speaking to TMZ Sports on Wednesday, February 7.

“I think in the end, he was just tired. He did say that to me when we had our conversation. He said, ‘Brett, whatever happens, I’m OK with it,'” he recalled. “He said, ‘I quit chemo and it probably did more damage to me than the cancer did.’ … [Toby] handled it with grace and faith and family. And stood up to the cancer about as good as you can. He was an entertainer. He was the best.”

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