Tim McGraw: 11 Things to Know About the Singer and Actor

Tim McGraw is by now a major celebrity. The Louisiana native released his first single, “What Room Was The Holiday In” in 1991, and has been a mainstay at country music radio for the more than three decades since then.

Even people who aren’t country music fans also know McGraw, thanks to his roles in movies like The Shack, Four Christmases, The Blind Side and more, plus the current Paramount+ TV show, 1883.

Keep reading to find out more about McGraw’s unique and varied life and career.

1. He was going to be a lawyer.

McGraw could be trying cases instead of trying out new songs. After graduating as the salutatorian of Monroe Christian High School, he attended Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship, although a knee injury ultimately prevented him from pursuing baseball any further.

“I wanted to be a lawyer, as long as I could remember,” McGraw told his record label. “In fact, I think I was 11, 12, 13 years old and I saw And Justice for All with Al Pacino. And from that point on, I always wanted to be a defense attorney. I went to college to be a lawyer, and then I picked up a guitar and started playing music, so that all went out the window.”

2. His relationship with his father, Tug McGraw, got off to a rocky start.

McGraw grew up believing Horace Smith, the husband of his mother Betty D’Agostino, was his father, until he found his birth certificate when he was 11. D’Agostino took McGraw to meet the baseball superstar, but Tug wanted nothing to do with him. Still, when McGraw was 18, the two were able to form a relationship, one that continued until Tug passed away in 2004.

“People ask me, ‘How could you have a relationship with your father? You were growing up in nothing. He was a millionaire baseball player. He knew you were there, and he didn’t do anything,'” McGraw said on the Today Show. “But when I found out Tug McGraw was my dad, it gave me something in my little town in Louisiana, something that I would have never reached for. How could I ever be angry?”

3. It took him a while to have a hit at radio.

McGraw has had an astonishing 45 No. 1 hits, but success in country music didn’t come quickly for him. In fact, his first four singles failed to chart at all, with “Indian Outlaw,” his fifth single, landing in the Top 10. Fortunately, McGraw found his groove with “Don’t Take the Girl,” the second single from his Not A Moment Too Soon sophomore album. Even better, McGraw spent his hard-earned money from his newfound success wisely.

“I’m buying a house,” McGraw told Country Weekly at the time. “I always said that’s the first thing I’d do if I ever got the chance to do it.”

4. He proposed to his wife Faith Hill in a trailer at a music festival.

Most men get down on one knee to pop the question, but McGraw isn’t most men. Hill was serving as the opening act on his Spontaneous Combustion Tour, where sparks really did fly, and the couple fell in love.

“We were in the dressing room here, June 26, 1996,” McGraw said at a country music festival (via the Today Show) “I’d joked around with her about getting married, and so … I looked at her, I grabbed her by the hands before I went onstage. She had already done her show. And I said, ‘I’m really serious. I want you to marry me.'”

“She laughed and she said, ‘We’re at a country music festival in a trailer house, and you’re asking me to marry you?'” he continued.

While Hill didn’t answer McGraw before he walked out on stage, she wrote in Sharpie on his dressing room mirror, “Yes, I’m going to be your wife!” accompanied by a few lipstick kisses.

5. He never took any acting classes.

McGraw’s first film was Black Cloud, out in 2004, which had a limited release. His first big role was in Friday Night Lights, also released that same year, where he played opposite Billy Bob Thornton, as Charles Billingsley, an alcoholic and abusive father of high school football player, Don Billingsley. Although McGraw never took any official acting classes, it was Thornton who gave him acting advice that McGraw has relied on for all of the numerous roles he has played since then.

“I was scared to death because that was my first big movie,” McGraw recalled (via Taste of Country). “I asked him for any advice he’d give me and he says, ‘If you think you’re not doing enough you’re probably still doing too much.’”

6. His role in Four Christmases was a catalyst for him quitting drinking.

McGraw starred opposite Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall and more in the star-studded 2006 blockbuster film, Four Christmases. What should have been a high point of his life and career quickly became a defining moment instead, thanks to an offhand comment made by his daughter, Gracie, who was 11 at the time, and said he looked “big on the screen.”

“I got out of it for a while,” McGraw told Men’s Health, revealing he was about 215 pounds at the time. “I was in the prime of my career, and I wasn’t capitalizing on it.”

7. His wife gave him an ultimatum about his drinking.

Seeing his unhealthy physique in Four Christmases helped McGraw focus on getting healthy, but it was Hill who laid down the law when it came to him over-imbibing.

“My emotional absence was noticed and it was not scoring any points,” McGraw recalled in his 2019 book, Grit & Grace: Train the Mind, Train the Body, Own Your Life. “Getting real like only she can do, Faith told me, ‘Partying or family, take your pick.’”

8. His favorite meal is pot roast.

For his recent 56th birthday, Hill made him his favorite meal, which is pot roast, rice with gravy, peas, collard greens, cornbread and sweet tea.

“My husband couldn’t wait until dinner for his favorite meal so we are having it for lunch……most likely again for dinner,” Hill captioned an Instagram photo on McGraw’s recent birthday.

Instagram/Faith Hill

9. He was the one who asked Hill to join him in the cast of 1883.

1883 creator, Taylor Sheridan, first reached out to McGraw to see if he was interested in starring in the show, which serves as the prequel to the popular Yellowstone series. Once he agreed, Sheridan tasked McGraw with inviting Hill to join the cast, as the wife of McGraw’s character.

“I’d been a fan of Yellowstone since the first night it came out,” McGraw reveals to BMLG. “So, Taylor called, and he goes, ‘Hey man, I want you to be in Yellowstone, and you’re gonna play the original Dutton who founded the Yellowstone ranch.’ And he said, ‘You’re also gonna have a wife. Do you think Faith would be interested in playing your wife?’ It took me about three days to get the nerve up to ask her. She said, ‘Sure, I’ll be glad to do it. It’ll be fun.’”

10. He is a licensed pilot.

McGraw needed something to fill his time after he got sober, so he focused on flying. McGraw got his pilot’s license, which means he can now fly himself to and from his own gigs, if he so chooses.

“I always wanted to fly,” McGraw told Cleveland.com. “I certainly spend a lot of time in airplanes, in jets, when I’m working. When I quit drinking, it was a good diversion, a good way to focus on something. It took a lot of my attention and thought process.”

11. He works out — a lot.

As part of McGraw’s decision to get sober, he also decided to get fit. Really, really fit. The singer even brings an entire mobile gym with him on the road, and works out morning and night, even on — or especially on — show days. He also eliminated fast food, and makes exercise and fitness a priority, both for his physical and his mental health.

“Most things in this business are out of your control,” McGraw told Men’s Health. “What the radio is going to play, how many records you’re going to sell. Control the things you can, and maybe that helps.”