Walker Hayes opens up about sobriety struggle and faith after losing daughter – ‘I have no idea how I stayed sober’

Country music star Walker Hayes has reflected on how his faith and a special friendship helped him maintain his sobriety after experiencing the loss of his seventh child five years ago.

The 43-year-old musician and his wife, Laney, faced tragedy in 2018 when their daughter, Oakleigh Klover, passed away shortly after birth due to a uterine rupture that almost claimed Laney’s life as well.

At that time, Hayes, who had struggled with alcoholism, was two years sober – something he has since said was “miraculous.”

However, the loss of Oakleigh brought deep despair and tested his ability to remain sober. In a recent interview with Fox News, Hayes says that it was his close friendship with pastor Craig Allen Cooper that helped him find faith. Cooper was instrumental in supporting Hayes through this difficult period.

“I have no idea how I stayed sober through the loss of our seventh child,” Hayes admitted. “But I had a best friend named Craig who really, really allowed the Lord through him to love on me through some nasty, nasty stuff. And I’m talking about stuff where most people would be drawn away from me, you know?”

Their friendship and journey to faith were detailed in their joint book, Glad You’re Here, published in 2022. Hayes had been struggling as a singer-songwriter and self-proclaimed “alcoholic atheist” before meeting Cooper at a church in 2014.

Over time, their families became close friends and neighbors, even though Hayes was initially suspicious of Cooper’s unwavering support. Nevertheless, their friendship deepened, and Hayes began to embrace his faith and eventually started his path to sobriety.

Eight years sober as of October 2022, Hayes recalled a turning point when he knew he needed to change his life. He woke up one day while working at Costco, realizing he needed to stop drinking and face his alcoholism. Despite the challenges, he managed to stay sober, even trading bad addictions for healthier ones like working out.

However, the loss of Oakleigh shook him deeply, and he found himself tempted to relapse. The grief and despair led him to contemplate destructive actions, but the realization that he was leaving his wife and children behind sobered him up emotionally. Laney encouraged him to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, which proved crucial in keeping him on the path to sobriety.

Despite the trials during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, Hayes maintained his sobriety with the support of friends and family. He credited his family, especially his wife, for standing by him through his struggles with sobriety and the ups and downs of his career.

Walker Hayes and Laney, high school sweethearts, have been married since 2004 and share six children – daughters Lela, 17, Loxley, 9, and Everly, 6, and sons Chapel, 15, Baylor, 13, and Beckett, 9.

What a brave story to share.