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How God’s Grace Saved Granger Smith’s Marriage After Son’s Death

Photo from Granger Smith’s Instagram

How God’s Grace Saved Granger Smith’s Marriage After Son’s Death

By Movieguide® Contributor

Country star Granger Smith and his wife Amber Bartlett discussed with TODAY how God’s grace protected their marriage despite losing their son in a tragic drowning accident.

According to TODAY, in 2019, their three-year-old son River was at Dell Children’s Medical Center, where doctors told his parents there was “zero chance their son was going to live.”

“We asked for a second opinion,” Smith said. “The second crew came in and said: ‘Yes, we confirm this.’ Sympathetically of course, they told us: ‘There is no chance.'”

River had snuck through the gate surrounding their pool while Granger Smith had his back turned. By the time River was found, it was too late.

Grieving and heartbroken, Smith and his wife walked outside into a little hospital garden. It was there that they committed to not let this tragedy tear them apart.

Smith said that they “just looked at each other and we knew the statistics — we knew that couples don’t make it. The odds are against us. The world is completely against us, and people are mean and they will perpetuate this.”

“So we made an agreement, right then — it was like, almost, a business agreement. It was like: ‘OK, we’re going to do this. The world is going to come at us; we’re going to feel terrible; we have huge obstacles, but we are not going to split. We have to make this agreement for the other two kids — for, at least, the other two,” Smith said, reflecting on that moment.

Bartlett never blamed Smith for the accident, but some fans did.

A previous Movieguide® article reported some of the hateful things that were said:

“This makes me soooooo mad! Why would you be such irresponsible parents?!? Teach babies to swim, fence the pool, PROTECT your children! This is your fault, you KILLED your win kid. Truly disgusting,” one person commented. 

The couple worked hard to forgive these comments and not let them get to them. Bartlett remained gracious and never blamed her husband for the incident.

“I was the one with River. I was in the backyard with him when he went into the pool,” Granger shared. “She could have at any moment said: ‘How dare you do this to our boy? How could you have turned your back on our baby?’ Easily, in her deepest and darkest moments of anger or guilt or depression she could have said: ‘It was you in the backyard,” Smith said. She never did — not once. Ever.”

Smith believes that his wife’s grace is one of the reasons they were able to keep their marriage together.

Bartlett added that it was “by the grace of God” she didn’t blame her husband.

“He’s my husband and I love him so much. We’re both walking through the exact same grief,” she said.

Movieguide® previously reported on Smith’s decision to leave his music career to focus on ministry:

Country star Granger Smith recently spoke more about his decision to leave country music and pursue ministry in his local church. 

“It sounds like a not-very-exciting news story — the story of a guy who had what I always dreamed of having, and turning it back over,” the singer laughed. “I’m turning it back in for a life at the local church. But I believe that that is what I am called to do.”

Smith also talked about the role faith had in his life following the tragic death of his son, River, who passed away in 2019 in a tragic accidental drowning. 

“I cannot take credit myself for the radical transformation that the Lord did in my life through this tragedy,” he shared. “Sometimes, when that soil is cultivated, and we have to dig deep, and we can’t find it within ourselves, the Lord comes in and shows Himself in a very profound way.”


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