When Chris Stapleton took the stage to accept his Male Vocalist of the Year trophy at the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 8), he made mention of two people close to him who have died in recent months.

The first of those was Mike Henderson, the founding SteelDrivers member and longtime collaborator who helped Stapleton pen some of his most impactful hit songs. Henderson died in September at the age of 70.

But the second person Stapleton remembered onstage was less well-known to the country music community. That was Eric Burrows, a bodyguard who served as Stapleton's director of security between 2016 and late 2021.

Burrows — who has also worked in security for celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Celine Dion — died on Monday (Nov. 6). A GoFundMe set up for his family says that he died unexpectedly while working in Europe.

Backstage after the awards show on Wednesday, Stapleton remembered Burrows as someone who was more than just an employee: He was a close family friend.

"He toured with us quite a bit," the singer told press. "Took care of my family. Did security on the road. He passed away the day before yesterday, and he was just on my mind."

"The kids loved him dearly," Stapleton continued. "We loved him dearly. He was a wonderful man."

In addition to winning the Male Vocalist of the Year category during Wednesday night's show, Stapleton delivered a solo performance and sang his Carly Pearce duet, "We Don't Fight Anymore."

2023 CMA Awards Red Carpet Pictures

See the best dressed from the 2023 CMA Awards red carpet.

The 2023 CMA Awards aired live on ABC from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 8. Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning hosted the show for a second straight year. Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Lainey Wilson and Morgan Wallen were nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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