Country music icon and Oklahoma superfan Toby Keith dies at 62

After a multi-year battle with stomach cancer, native Oklahoman and staunch Sooners supporter Toby Keith passed away on Monday.

Jan 8, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Country music artist Toby Keith
Jan 8, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Country music artist Toby Keith / Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Toby Keith, country music singer-songwriter known for his hits, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “Red Solo Cup,” and “As Good as I Once Was” and countless others, died on Monday at the age of 62. 

According to a statement posted on Keith’s website, he was surrounded by his family and died peacefully. In 2022, Keith announced that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and the statement said, “he fought his fight with grace and courage.”

More than just a prolific producer of Americana, a native Oklahoman, Keith worked as a roughneck in the Oklahoma oil fields and played semi-professional football prior to his successful career in the music industry. In the 1980s, he spent multiple seasons as a defensive end for the now-defunct Oklahoma City Drillers. The Drillers were a farm team for the first rendition of the USFL.

Keith never lost his love for his home state or the sport of football. He was a staunch Oklahoma Sooners fan, even appearing as a guest picker on ESPN’s College Gameday ahead of the 2018 Red River Rivalry. Unsurprisingly Keith went with his Sooners. Texas won that matchup 48-45, but Keith got to see the Sooners upset the Longhorns last season.

Sooner fans and OU alumni have been flooding social media with messages to the Oklahoma legend. He will not soon be forgotten in Norman. 

As recently as last Spring, Keith, despite his illness, appeared at the Women’s College World Series to witness the Sooners win their third-straight national championship. The University posted a statement to its most notable superfan this morning.