Walker Hayes: ‘Alcoholic Atheist’ To Man Of Faith And Sobriety

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Walker Hayes shares his key to sobriety following the loss of his child, Oakleigh.

Walker and his wife, Laney, suffered the loss of their daughter, Oakleigh Klover, just after her birth in 2018 due to a uterine rupture that almost took Laney’s life as well. Walker was “miraculously” two years sober at the time of his daughter’s death, and almost relapsed due to this tragedy. He credits his faith and his good friend, Craig, who he even wrote a song about.

Hayes considered himself an atheist before he met Craig. In an interview, the singer revealed the reason for his religious stance: his dad was a former music minister giving Walker an up-close view of the hurt in the church. “My dad was a former music minister before he was a real-estate agent. You know, I saw a lot of hurt in that church.”

Craig’s wife, Laura, invited Walker’s family to church, and Laney insisted that they attend.

Walker had recently been dropped from his music label and was a full-blown alcoholic at the time. Hayes admits that he was drunk the first time he met Craig at church even including the fact that he “smelled like beer” in the song he wrote for Craig.  The families ended up hitting it off and eventually became neighbors. Walker and Craig have since written a book together called “Glad You’re Here,” which details the story of God’s goodness and grace in their lives.

Hayes had recently had their family vehicle repossessed after a series of unfortunate events, and the family of eight was left with a sedan that only seated five people. This family was struggling when, according to the song written for Craig, he showed up at a baseball game where the Hayes family was and gifted them a mini van.

The lyrics read:

Showed up at the ballpark after my son’s game one nightIn two cars, with his wife Laura watching from the otherI said “What in the world are y’all doing here, brother?”He just laughed inside that old Chrysler Town and Country vanWith the keys, and a title, and a pen in his handSaid “Man, all you got to do is sign and it’s yours”I said “No, no way”But he wouldn’t take “no” for an answerHe said “Please doSomebody did this for me once, just let me do this for you”We argued about it for a little whileThen I teared up, and Craig smiled

Hayes details his redemption story.

“I have nothing going on musically. I’m an alcoholic. I’m great at pushing people away,” Hayes recalled. “And then so here comes this guy named Craig, who was drawn nearer to me. And it was quite confusing. You know, there were a lot of times when I was like, ‘What’s this dude’s deal? Like, why does he love us so much? Like, why does he keep feeding us food? Why is he giving me a minivan? Why is he encouraging me? Why isn’t he like everybody else?'”

The 43-year-old continued, “In the long run, I honestly found out he’s just as broken as me, but he just knows Jesus. He needs Jesus. Every morning he wakes up, he needs Jesus, and Jesus is a light through him. And then, it was an awareness. I began to look in the mirror and just look at simple things.”


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He told Fox News Digital, “I’m eight years sober this October.”

The “Fancy Like” singer shared his struggles over the last eight years saying he almost relapsed when they lost Oakleigh. He drove to the bar the day they buried her with every intention of getting drunk and fighting someone he knew he couldn’t beat, but he realized after he got there that he forgot his wallet.

“I just want[ed] to get in a fight. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get hammered and just honestly fight someone I couldn’t beat up. I wanted them to just destroy me, but I wanted to make some damage. I don’t know. But I got to this bar, and my wallet wasn’t in the door of my car, so I drove back to the house.”

He also shared that he had some moments during the Covid pandemic where he almost fell back into his alcohol addiction.

“There were a couple of nights during COVID where all the mechanisms that I lean on were gone, and I was like, ‘Dang, nobody would know tonight if I just did it,’ you know? But I had friends who supported me, and I support them as much as I can. But we’re good, dude. Eight years, and it’s a day-to-day thing.”

Walker dreams of working side-by-side with Craig to share their story in the future.

“Look, I’m up for whatever the Lord has in store, but a dream of mine would be eventually, maybe one day, Craig and I sharing our story together in some way, form or fact, just continuing that relationship. We just got back from a trip to Rwanda about four months ago with a group called Hope International. He’s a brother. I mean, I can’t say anything. I love Craig. I love his vulnerability. And again, I had never experienced unconditional love of Christ through another human until I met him.”

Watch Walker talk about his journey to faith and sobriety in the interview below.