Daughter of Toby Keith says he told her not to apologize for being patriotic

 May 15, 2024

Months after his death from stomach cancer in February, Toby Keith's family, friends, and supporters continue to be profoundly affected by his legacy.

Krystal Keith, Toby's daughter , represented him at the University of Oklahoma's commencement ceremony on Saturday by accepting an honorary degree, as Fox News reported.

"When he learned last fall that he was being inducted to Sooner Nation on this high of a level, he was so excited, and he was so proud," Krystal said during her speech while accepting the degree.

She continued, "I actually made a joke about how many hours I spent here getting my bachelor’s degree, and he joked that he didn’t have to work that hard to get his. But we all know he earned it and spent many more hours dedicating his life to earning it this way. He loved his family (he loved all of us), God, our country, and Sooner Nation."

The Singer's Passions

Keith's love and devotion to the college, which Krystal continued, dates back to his youth.

"His passion started far back before he was 12 and 13. He sold Cokes at the stadium just to be able to see the OU games. He joked that he would sell them for half the game, and then he would go sit and watch the game and sometimes got in trouble for not finishing his job."

Keith was so dedicated to the Sooner team that "He broke his ankle playing a celebrity OU Alumni game in the '90s," as his daughter outlined.

"For as long as I can remember, he took our family to bowl games and was on every sideline or courtside of every OU event that he possibly could, regardless of sport or gender. He wanted to be at all of them. He supported them wholeheartedly. He simply bled Crimson and Cream."

A Strong Work Ethic

Throughout his career as a musician, he maintained the same work ethic.

"Throughout his life and career, he made sure to work hard to have the best, to be the best. He often said, ‘They may write better than me, they may sing better than me, and they may look better than me, but they will NEVER outwork me,’" Krystal recalled.

"And that made all the difference. He was a larger-than-life legend, he was an icon, he did things his own way, his songs inspired nearly everyone in country music and beyond."

Krystal also highlighted her father’s patriotism, something he proudly encouraged in his children, saying, "He always said, ‘Never apologize for being patriotic,’ and practiced what he preached through his work with the USO [United Service Organizations]."

Final Thoughts

Recalling a few of his eleven performances, "He was going into the most dangerous zones, where guys that never got those entertainers to come to them, were housed and were sitting, and he would go and boost their morale. And that’s who he wanted to go see. We called him Captain America. And that’s something he earned."

Krystal concluded her speech, saying, "My dad taught me everything: singing, writing songs and … most of what I know about life. And I hope the graduates that are here today can learn from him, too. He fought hard to live his dream."

"He had faith and believed in himself. He never gave up the fight, even when the odds were against him. He would want me to tell you to never give up on yourself. As you start your next journey in life, know that you have strong roots here at the University of Oklahoma. Work hard and be the captain of your own ship. Believe in yourself and live your dream."

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