Happy 54th birthday, Tim McGraw! The singer was born on this day, May 1, in 1967, in Delhi, La.
McGraw was raised by his birth mother, Elizabeth “Betty” D’Agostino, and her husband, Horace Smith, whom McGraw believed to be his biological father. However, when the future country star was 11 years old, he found his birth certificate, which stated that his biological father was, in fact, professional baseball player Tug McGraw. It would take another seven years for the pro athlete to acknowledge that Tim McGraw was his son.
“It was a little strange. I grew up in poor circumstances,” McGraw recalls. “I remember watching the World Series games and being 13 years old and sort of lucky that we could pay the light bill to have the TV on to watch the World Series games, so it was a little strange dichotomy.”
After high school, McGraw went to both Northeast Louisiana University and Florida Community College at Jacksonville before deciding to move to Nashville to focus solely on his music career. The singer signed to Curb Records in 1990 and released his eponymous debut album three years later. The record failed to produce any hits, but his sophomore project, Not a Moment Too Soon, which was released in 1994, kicked off McGraw’s superstar career.
Not a Moment Too Soon shot straight to the top of the charts and spawned two No. 1 singles, the title track and “Don’t Take the Girl.” Ten of McGraw’s subsequent 12 albums landed at No. 1, and the other two — 2002’s Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors and 2015’s Damn Country Music – peaked at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. To date, McGraw has earned more than 30 No. 1 singles and sold more than 40 million albums.
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McGraw has also enjoyed a successful career as an actor, appearing in blockbuster movies such as Friday Night Lights, The Blind Side and Country Strong. But while he enjoys being in front of the camera, his music career will always take first place.
“I have to find a script that’s going to be done within the window,” he says. “It’s a two- or three-month commitment to a movie when you decide to do one, not to mention the preparation before. You don’t want to shortchange anybody.”
In addition to a widely successful professional career, McGraw’s personal life has flourished as well. He’s been married to fellow country singer Faith Hill since 1996, and the two have three daughters: Gracie, Maggie and Audrey. The four women are the ones that urged their husband and father to get sober after years of alcohol and drug use.
“I drank too much. I partied too much. And did other things too much. Chemically,” McGraw acknowledges. “When your wife tells you it’s gone too far, that’s a big wake-up call. That and realizing you’re gonna lose everything you have. Not monetarily, not career wise, but family wise … It got to the point where my kids were getting older, and it was way past the point that they noticed it. And I noticed that they noticed. That’s enough to straighten you out.”
Tragically, Tug McGraw passed away in 2004. But even in his death, his son learned a valuable lesson.
“It made me realize that I could do something with my life,” Tim McGraw says. “He gave me something that he may not have ever known he gave me: He gave me a reason to think that I could make something out of my life, because he did.”
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