UK students honor family friend and musician Troy Gentry

Madison and Walker Montgomery pose together. Photo provided by Madison Montgomery.

Walker Montgomery said he thinks his childhood was much like anyone else’s.

He and his sister, Madison, grew up in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and when they chose a college, two years apart, they both ended up at UK.

Madison, now a digital media and design junior, chose UK because she wanted the experience of a big school, close to home. Integrated strategic communications freshman Walker spent time on campus with Madison and decided to join her here.

But their childhood was at least a little different from their fellow classmates’: Their dad is country music star John Michael Montgomery. Their uncle, Eddie Montgomery, is one half of the country duo Montgomery Gentry.

“Growing up, I never really understood the extent of my uncle and father’s fame,” Madison said. “When asked what my dad did for a living, I would simply say, ‘He’s a singer!’ and think nothing more of it.”

But, as Madison rightly said, her father and her “Uncle Eddie” are country music legends.

This meant a childhood that was “full of music,” Walker said, though for a while, he focused on sports.

He said that people kept asking him if he sang, and when he was in high school, music became more a part of his everyday life. He began playing around Lexington and had quit sports by his senior year.

While Madison also sings and plays piano, she said music is only a hobby for her. She said she is proud to be her brother’s number one fan when he performs.

Back in August, Walker won a Twitter contest that gave him the opportunity to play before the first UK football game of the season. More than 16,000 votes were cast, according to UK Athletics, and Walker won among eight nominees.

“For me, it was one of the biggest opportunities I have had,” Walker said.

However, the concert took on a deeper meaning after tragedy struck on Friday. Troy Gentry, the other half of Montgomery Gentry, was killed in a helicopter crash. Gentry was 50 years old. The duo was supposed to perform that night, according to the Montgomery Gentry Twitter account.

Instead, Walker performed in Gentry’s honor on Saturday.

“I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to pay tribute to Troy on behalf of my family,” Walker said. “I hope I made him proud.”

Madison, who was at the concert, said she was proud of Walker.

Despite the great opportunity that Walker had on Saturday, the last several days have been rough for the siblings.

Madison said she grew up around Gentry, and she is friends with his daughter, who is close to her age.

“He was such a great person, and it’s so strange to think that he won’t be around anymore,” Madison said.

Walker said Gentry was his father’s and uncle’s best friend.

“He will be so missed,” he said.