Granger Smith Opens Up About Hitting “Rock Bottom,” Says He “Wanted To End It All” After The Tragic Death Of His Son River

Smith detailed the moment he hit “rock bottom” and recalled the night his family and faith ultimately saved his life.

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Melinda Lorge

Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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Posted on August 3, 2023

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Photo Courtesy of Granger Smith

Granger Smith is preparing to embark on a new journey in ministry after announcing that he planned on stepping away from his music career for good.  

Now, he is sharing his reasons for starting a new life chapter that will begin four years after the accidental death of his toddler son, River, whom he shares with his wife, Amber Smith.

The Moment Granger Smith Hit “Rock Bottom”

In a new and exclusive interview with ET Online’s Rachel Smith, Smith describes the pain of losing his three-year-old son, who drowned in the family pool in 2019. He explains that the tragedy of it all took him into a downward spiral that eventually saw him hitting “rock bottom.” But, through the darkness, he found himself leaning into his faith and surrendering to a higher power. 

“I would wake up in the middle of the night many times, and I would wake up and go, ‘I lost my son,’ and then I couldn’t go back to sleep,” Smith recalled of the early days of the aftermath of the drowning, sharing that he’d turn to weed to help calm his emotions when images of his lost child suffering would run through his mind.

He continued, “It was every night, so I would take weed in some form so that hopefully I would sleep all night, and it worked. It felt good, and so then I thought, ‘Well, I might as well go and have [it] in the morning, too, in case something happens at breakfast, and then I might as well make sure around lunchtime’… And then I thought, ‘If I don’t have it, I’m in trouble, and the slideshow’s gonna overtake me.”

Almost Took His Own Life

Some of the most distressing and disturbing images of River’s accident involved seeing his son face down in the home pool or hearing doctors say the words, “We’re going to lose him,” out loud. Those images left an excruciating mark on Smith’s memory to the point of no escape that he says he eventually lost it one night while riding on his tour bus and holding a gun. 

“There was one night in Boise, Idaho, where I just wanted to end it all when the weed wasn’t working anymore, and the alcohol couldn’t numb it, and self-help certainly couldn’t help anymore cause it takes a level of strength to self-help. And when you don’t have any strength, what do you do? Maybe, the only answer is to end it all because maybe that’s where the peace is. Maybe, that’s when you can finally rest in that,” Smith said. “That night on Wildflower in that back bedroom — that was just as rock bottom as it got to be honest.”

RELATED: Granger Smith Talks Financial Fears As He Prepares To Embark On A New Chapter

Faith, His Wife Amber And Their Other Two Kids Saved His Life

Even though his heart was breaking for River, Smith, who now has three children following the 2021 birth of his third son, Maverick, found the strength he needed to change his mindset into a positive one. He found that through his faith, and while thinking about his two kids, Lincoln and London.

“I had one thought, and it was Lincoln and London, my two kids at home. That was the first thought that hit me. I thought I just saw their faces, and then I said, ‘Jesus, help me,’” Smith recalled the moment that he let the gun slip through his fingers. “I said, ‘Jesus, save me,’ and suddenly I felt life sort of stop for the first time. The slideshow stopped. I slid the gun out of my hand, and it hit the bank, and I fell down on the floor, and I was crying, and I was horrified at my shame and my guilt and the weakness I was and the lack of strength that I had and the weak man I was. It all hit me at once, and that was the beginning.”

Granger Smith, Late Son River; Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Granger Smith, Late Son River; Photo Courtesy of Instagram

Quitting Country Music To Become A Minister

In April, Smith took to Instagram to announce that after 24 years of touring, he was leaving Country music to become a minister.

“This message is so difficult to post. The words for this caption are so hard to find. Not because I don’t believe in the truth of them, but because this marks the end of the longest era in my life! Touring…24 years of it,” he captioned alongside a lengthy video where he further shared his dreams of getting more involved in his church. “This summer will be my last tour. I am so encouraged and hopeful and excited and joyful about the next chapter, but to a large extent, I have no idea what it will look like [and] I just want to glorify God the best way that I can. I want to learn, grow, and serve my local church and allow my pastors to equip and affirm those next steps. Lord willing, I want to be used to help people find their purpose.”

Smith’s final tour, the Like A River Farewell Tour, launched on April 13, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Smith will say his final goodbye to fans when the trek wraps on August 26, with back-to-back shows in his home state of Texas.

RELATED: Granger Smith Details The “Radical Transformation” That Led Him To Quit Country Music

New Book, Like A River

Coinciding with his tour, Smith, who is working towards a master’s degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, released a book on Aug. 1 titled,  Like A River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward after Loss and Heartache. The memoir gives readers a look inside his family’s life and the healing process they’ve gone through following the tragic loss of their son, River. With the book, Smith and his wife hope to encourage parents to stay up on water safety techniques and others to process their grief. 

Granger Smith 'Like A River' Book Cover
Granger Smith ‘Like A River’ Book Cover

Smith shares, “This season of my life will be actually being with my family and going to our little local church and learning under our pastor and going to seminary and getting out and speaking occasionally and talking about this book and telling people about my darkest night and how I was saved from that, so that’s where I am right now.”

The country hitmaker recently shared that the book has some “dark moments” that are not safe for kids and that he might not even let his own kids read the book.

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Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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