Emotional ACM Honors Moment: Tim McGraw Pays Tribute To Faith Hill And Daughters During Heartfelt Speech

Tears were flowing when McGraw took the stage to accept the ACM Icon Award.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

September 18, 2023


3:57 pm

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Faith Hill, Audrey McGraw, Tim McGraw and Maggie McGraw attend the 16th Annual Academy of Country Music Honors; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for ACM

Tim McGraw broke down in tears when he accepted the prestigious ACM Icon Award during the 16th Annual ACM Honors event. 

The “7500 OBO” singer attempted to contain his emotions when he shared a heartfelt thank you to “everybody that’s crossed my path in life.” The superstar thanked the songwriters, his band, the musicians who played on his records, and his fans, but when it was time to acknowledge his family, the tears began to flow. 

Emotional Acceptance Speech

After thanking his mom and sisters, McGraw took a moment to gush over his wife, Faith Hill, who was watching from the audience.  

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

“I Love You Unconditionally”

“My world changed the day I met Faith,” McGraw, 56, said. “You’re my partner in life, you’re my partner musically, and help the rest of me. You stood by me with all the ups and downs, life, and a career in music and throw away. You simply tell me how it is when I can’t see the light. I would not be where I am today without you and your grace. I love you unconditionally.”  

A Sweet Message For His Daughters

The crowd continued to cheer him on as tears streamed down his face. He proceeded to convey his gratitude and admiration for his daughters, with two of them present in the audience.

“I want to say thank you to my daughters, Gracie, Maggie, and Aubrey. It’s not lost on me in the least that growing up in a household where mom and dad are artists, created this whole set of challenges…But I’m so proud of the women you’ve become…Thank you for who you are, and I love you so much.”

Audrey McGraw, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Maggie McGraw; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
Audrey McGraw, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Maggie McGraw; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

Tribute Performances

Earlier in the evening, Brett Young performed McGraw’s first-ever No.1 hit, “Don’t Take The Girl” in his honor. 

Nelly was on hand to present Tim McGraw with the award following a performance of their 2004 collaboration, “Over and Over.”  

“Tim, my man, my brother, you are the definition of an icon and that is just a small amount of what we can say about you,” Nelly said from the stage. “You are not just the epitome of country music, but the epitome of music itself, and I just want to thank you for all that you have inspired me as not just a hip hop artist, not just as a country music inspirational artist, but just as an artist and person and in every facet of my life and it’s an honor to present the ACM Icon Award tonight to Tim McGraw.” 

Tim McGraw, Nelly; Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for ACM

ACM Icon Award

The ACM Icon Award was also awarded to label executive Mike Dungan. This award honors the contributions of Cliffie Stone, who was known for his producing work along with his Country Music career. This award is presented to a Country Music artist, duo/group or industry leader who, throughout their career, has advanced the popularity of the genre through their contributions in multiple facets of the industry, such as songwriting, recording, production, touring, film, television, literary works, philanthropic contributions, and other goodwill efforts.  

Past recipients of the ACM Icon Award include Alabama, Connie Bradley, Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Joe Galante, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, George Jones, The Judds, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Conway Twitty, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., and Dwight Yoakam, among others. 

Audrey McGraw, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Maggie McGraw; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
Audrey McGraw, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Maggie McGraw; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

2023 ACM Honors

The 16th Annual ACM Honors was filmed on Wednesday, August 23 at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dubbed “Country Music industry’s favorite night,” the 2023 ACM Honors recognized several special honorees, including Tim McGraw (ACM Icon Award), Chris Stapleton (ACM Triple Crown Award), Charlie Daniels (ACM Spirit Award), Clint Black (ACM Poet’s Award), Mary Chapin Carpenter (ACM Poet’s Award), BRELAND (ACM Lift Every Voice Award), Kane Brown (ACM International Award), HARDY (ACM Artist/Songwriter Of The Year Award) and more.

The coveted awards show also featured performances from BRELAND, Keith Urban, Lee Brice, Brandy Clark, Priscilla Block, Jordan Davis, Billy Ray Cyrus, FIREROSE, Sara Evans, Chris Janson, Lady A, Nelly, Bailey Zimmerman, Dennis Quaid, The War And Treaty, Trisha Yearwood, Brett Young as well as the show’s host Carly Pearce, among others.

Carly Pearce; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
Carly Pearce; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

Randy Travis, Big Kenny, Marty Stuart and Storme Warren were also on hand to present.

Carly Pearce returned as the show’s host for the third consecutive year. “The Academy of Country Music has played such a crucial role in the rise of my career in the last several years, giving me opportunities to expand my artistry with hosting,” Pearce previously shared in a statement. “To be able to come back as the host of the ACM Honors for the third year in a row, I feel so grateful and excited for what I know will be such a special night!”

ACM Honors premiered on Monday, September 18 at 8/7c on FOX. The show will also be available to stream on Hulu on Tuesday (Sept. 19).

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.