He is of Italian, Irish, German, Scottish-Irish descent. In 1994, he hit it big with the single Indian Outlaw, which was said to cause controversy among Native Americans, but critics said it portrayed them in a good way. Another one of his songs, Don't Take the Girl, became his #1 hit and showed him as a country guy with a good heart. Another one of his singles, Down on the Farm, rose to #2 on the charts. In 1995, he released his All I Want album, which includes the tracks I Like It, I Love It, which hit #1 on the country charts, She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart which rose to #1 on the charts in 1996. Hit top 5 hits that year were Can't Really Be Gone, All I Want is a Life, Maybe We Should Just Sleep On It, and She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart.
On Oct. 20, 2009, he released his Southern Voice album. On Nov. 10, 2010, he presented the awards at the 44th Annual Country Music Awards.
He first caught the acting bug when he appeared on a 1995 episode of the Jeff Foxworthy Show, playing Jeff's rival. In 2004, he played the overbearing father of a running back in the movie Friday Night Lights. His first lead role, however, came in 2006, when he played the father of the main character Rob in the movie Flicka. Then in 2009, he appeared alongside Sandra Bullock in the movie The Blind Side. Both him and Bullock played Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who raised a homeless teen named Michael Oher, who would later go on to be a famous football star. This movie was also based on a true story.
He also enjoys giving to charity and helping out. When Hurricane Katrina hit, him and his wife started collecting supplies to help those affected by the storm .