Randy Travis is undoubtedly one of country music's greatest. With over 25 million records sold and 22 number one hits, Travis has firmly established himself as a country legend. He's been heavily rewarded for his success, with a total of six Grammys, six CMA Awards, nine ACM Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But Travis' 35-year career came to a sudden halt on July 10, 2013.
On July 7, 2013, Travis was admitted to a hospital in Dallas after suffering from a viral upper respiratory infection, and was said to be in critical condition at the time. Three days later, his condition took a turn for the worse when he suffered a massive stroke, and he was rushed to surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain.
Five days after his stroke, Travis was said to be alert and on the road to recovery. But it hasn't been an easy road to travel. Following his stroke, Travis was unable to speak and had trouble walking. Since he couldn't speak, it also seemed unlikely at the time that he would ever be able to sing again.
But Travis has proven that he can defy all the odds. After going through physical therapy, he is now able to walk short distances without assistance. He's also slowly teaching himself how to write and play the guitar again, and remarkably, has been able to speak and even sing a few words.
In recent months, Travis has started to appear in the public eye again, often stepping out on stage to join his fellow country stars. In March, Travis made a rare appearance in Nashville at a ceremony in honor of his being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Travis walked up to the podium and managed to thank the crowd, while his wife, Mary, praised him:
"He lived and he loved the songs that he wrote and the songs that he sang," she said. "He's a man of great courage, as you all know. He's kind and he's gentle and he has God-given talents."
In April, Travis surprised festival goers at the Off the Rails Country Music fest when he stepped on stage with Blake Shelton. With Travis' hand in his, Shelton introduced the country legend to the crowd, calling him his "hero":
"You tell me miracles can't happen...you're looking at one right here, man," Shelton said. "This is one of my heroes, and it ought to be one of your heroes. Thank you so much for being here tonight, Randy. We all love you."
In May, Travis attended his star-studded birthday bash at the George Jones Museum, and it was quite the celebration. Smiling from ear to ear, Travis posed for photos with Jones' widow, Nancy, and country legend Tanya Tucker, among others.
June marked another string of surprise appearances from Travis. He joined Kenny Chesney on stage during one of his concerts in Texas, and was remarkably able to sing along with him a little on his song "Diggin' Up Bones." A few days later, Travis appeared on stage with Charlie Daniels during his performance at the CMA Music Festival.
Travis' recent increase in public appearances have shown how far he's come over the course of the past three years. His strength, courage, and determination to keep going no matter what are just a few of the many reasons why he's such an inspiration.
Three years after a stroke that almost claimed his life, Travis is still here with us, and is continuing to make a difference in the country music community with every breath he takes.
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