Before he became one of the biggest stars in country music, Lee Brice was a college football player. He walked on at Clemson before ultimately earning a scholarship.
You better believe he was in attendance when Clemson beat Alabama, 35-31, in the national championship this past January.
“I took my daddy and my brother both years,” Brice said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Obviously last year, seconds were counting down. Daddy didn’t go to Clemson. He got recruited. So we were fans our whole life. I worked my whole life just to go there. I got recruited other places, but I went there and worked my way (onto the team).”
Clemson hadn’t won a national title since 1981 – when Brice, 38, was two years old.
“And now here we are in that moment,” Brice said of that January night. “As soon as Deshaun got the ball, (I thought), ‘We’re going to win.’ It started hitting us. I took a picture of me and daddy and Lewis. That picture kind of caught it, that moment. It was really, really, really special.”
Family and sports are two of Brice’s greatest loves. In fact, they’ve had a strong influence on his career.
“My family has become everything to me,” said Brice, whose newest album, Lee Brice, drops Nov. 3. “My love of my live was football and music. Now it’s music and now it’s just family. It’s getting tougher and tougher for me to stay on the road a lot. I used to couldn’t wait to get on the road, but now I miss (my kids). I got a fourth-month-old little girl. I got a three-year-old boy and a nine-year-old that’s getting to an age where they need daddy there as much as they can. But sports, I tell people all the time how you learn things. For football for me, you learn. That’s why I’m trying to get my boys into it as much as I can – because you learn perseverance. When you’re tired, there’s no stopping. You have to find something. If you’re going to have a music career – right now I’m on the road 250 days a year. I’m gone. It’s a push. It’s a grind.”
Brice moved to Nashville in 2001 but wasn’t an overnight sensation. He released his first single in 2007 and had his first No. 1 hit, “A Woman Like You,” in 2012.
“So that’s nine years before I had my first big hit,” Brice said.
Brice, to his credit, though, also had a No. 2 single, “Love Like Crazy,” in 2010. He said you can “kind of consider” a No. 2 a No. 1.
In music, maybe, but not sports. After all, does Alabama consider No. 2 the same thing as No. 1, Brandon Tierney quipped.
“Well, no,” Brice said, prompting laughter from Tiki and Tierney. “Not now they don’t.”