Brad Warren Sheds Light on His Son’s Death

Advises Kids to "Treat Alcohol Like a Loaded Gun and Drugs Like a Ticking Time Bomb"

Back in May, when country singer-songwriter duo The Warren Brothers shared the news that Brad Warren’s 21-year-old son Sage had died, there was no real information on his cause of death. Only speculation.

But on Sunday night (August 16), three months after the sudden and tragic day of Sage’s death, Brad Warren opened up in a lengthy post on Facebook. Here’s what he had to say:

Friends. I only peek at social media every great once in a while and today I noticed that I haven’t ever expounded on the loss of my son Sage except at his funeral.

On May 18, 2020, Michelle and I lost our oldest son Sage to this world. He was 21 years old. We believe with every fiber of our being that he is in Heaven where he belongs and that we will see him again one day.

I love this child more than I thought was possible and I miss him every second of every minute of every day.

I want to say a short piece on Sage’s life, his death and his life after death.

Sage did not die in a tragic accident or of a heart attack. He died of an accidental drug overdose. He bought a small amount of drugs apparently laced with fentanyl, consumed the drugs and died in his sleep. I want to back up a little and tell you a brief version of his story.

Sage had a restless soul and a huge heart. He loved his family with a loyalty I can only describe as fierce. If someone even looked at his mother wrong he was ready to fight. He spent more time, love and energy on his grandparents than any kid I’ve ever seen. He was in love with a wonderful girl and protected his younger brothers even when they didn’t need it. He did everything at 100 miles an hour with the intensity and competitiveness of a warrior.

I’m not sure when his struggle with drugs began, but I recognized the addictive behavior when he was around 10. I am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober 15 years so I saw things in Sage early that gave me concern. Because of that concern we were very strict on Sage in high school. He excelled in sports as an All Region athlete and he got by academically. He did drink and smoke weed in high school but we usually caught him and tightened the reigns for a while. He was the target of a mean-spirited law suit in 10th grade that may have contributed to his addiction but addiction had been a concern for both Michelle and I prior to that.

He graduated from Father Ryan High School in 2016 and moved to Johnson City, TN to hopefully play football for East Tennessee State University. He started partying, taking Adderall to study, and I assume using hard drugs. When we saw him that year his behavior was erratic and we were more than a little concerned. After a DUI in 2017 we made him move home to Nashville and that began a time of love, praying, worry, tough love, counseling and fear for us as parents. Then in February of 2019 we had an intervention and Sage agreed to go to rehab. He came out a completely different young man on fire for sobriety, God, and doing things the right way. It was the best year of my life. I said that to many people many times before he died. 2019 was amazing. We experienced recovery, strength and hope in a way I couldn’t have previously imagined. I thought it was an incredible new beginning but in fact it was a gift from God to me. A gift that said, “this is the son you raised. Enjoy him and celebrate him this year.’

In 2020 Sage began slipping off the path. Because of COVID-19, Sage couldn’t attend those all important 12-step meetings. He attended some Zoom meetings with me but did not like them at all. I cautioned him to stay diligent because his disease was doing push ups regardless of a government shutdown. But in the end he started letting go of the things that had brought him life. I knew he had been smoking pot again but had no idea he’d been dabbling with hard drugs as well. On May 18 I got the call that keeps every parent awake a few minutes longer every night. The call you see in movies. The call you know you’re never gonna get but it worries you anyway. The call that makes parents pray a little longer and harder than people without children. I had raised this child for almost 22 years. Strikeouts, home runs, A’s and F’s, pride and fear, worry and confidence. I had experienced it all with him. This couldn’t be it. It can’t be over.

IT’S NOT OVER.
HERE ARE MY POINTS.

A. Addiction is a disease. PARENTS please treat it as such. It is a disease that can be a blessing if we surrender it to God and help others in need. But it IS a disease. If your child had cancer you wouldn’t be embarrassed to get him or her treatment. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Share information with other parents. If we as parents don’t tell other parents when we catch their kids drinking and drugging…shame on us. What cowardly behavior. We might miss a chance to help a parent save their child’s life. of course not all kids that drink and use are addicts…but give other parents ALL the info and let them decide how to proceed.

KIDS..Treat alcohol like a loaded gun and drugs like a ticking time bomb. A loaded gun is not always a bad thing but we must always respect the danger it poses when we don’t respect the damage it’s capable of. Before I got sober I did what Sage did the night he died probably 100 times. I bought drugs from people I didn’t know in places I shouldn’t have been. There was no fentanyl when I was out there. I got 20 years to learn lessons, find God and turn my life around. Sage got one bad night. Remember that.

B. Sage is not gone. He is in heaven. I happen to believe in Jesus and the Bible and the Resurrection. I always have. But Since Sage died I have a whole new faith. I feel him around me. Michelle and I have been given many signs that he is around us. Some of them if I told you would make you think we were people wearing tin foil hats looking for UFO’s in the sky.

God is real. Heaven is real. The human spirit is much too strong for this one short life. I have been kind of anti-religion my whole life as I grew up in a very evangelical church and I am rebellious by nature. Now I am pro every religion and denomination that is headed the direction of the Cross. The thousand people at Sage’s funeral..the hundreds at our house in those first 2 weeks…every single one brought a piece of God with them and I absorbed it like a sponge. There were Baptists, Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and they all had something wonderful for Michelle, Jude, Quinn and I.

I spent far too many years mad at religion because it wasn’t perfect. Now I want to be quick to see where people are right and slow to judge where they might be wrong. I encourage everyone to have faith and to work on it. In a time like this you need it more than oxygen.

C. THANK YOU. I can’t tell you how kind, loving and supportive people have been to us during this time. I don’t often participate in social media so I don’t know how so many people found out about Sage so quickly and were able to run to our rescue so immediately. We are healing..painfully..one day at a time. But it would be much more painful and much slower without you all. To me, that is God at work.

We are not exactly sure how yet, but Michelle and I will be using Sage’s life and death to help others. We have a call, a mission, something to say. We are not afraid of life or death or what people might think. We are open to whatever is next but only when it honors our son and helps others because that is what he wants. We can feel it. We can feel him. This is not the end..it’s only the beginning.

Sage was born on Sept. 6, 1998, and was Brad and his wife Michelle’s oldest son. The couple has two younger sons, Quinn Douglas and Jude Fox. The Warren Brothers have been a part of Nashville’s tight-knit family of treasured singer-songwriters since moving to Music City in 1995. Along with their own success as a country duo, they’ve spent years honing their songwriting craft for other country artists with songs like “Red Solo Cup,” “If You’re Reading This,” “Feel That Fire,” “Little Bit of Everything,” “We Back,” “Sober Saturday Night,” “Thought About You,” “Every Time I Hear That Song,” “Between the River and Me,” and countless others.

In addition to their songwriting gifts, the brothers had their own CMT reality show in 2005 about being not quite there yet, called Barely Famous: The Warren Brothers.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro