University of North Texas officials presented the members of Eli Young Band with Distinguished Young Alumni Awards in a private ceremony Saturday, May 11, at Cowboys Stadium where they were appearing with Kenny Chesney’s "No Shoes Nation Tour."
Michael Eli Diaz ('04), James Jeffrey Young ('02), Jonathan Bradley Jones ('04) and Christopher Jordan Thompson ('04) each received a crystal statuette inscribed with their name and the name of the award. UNT announced in February that EYB members would be recipients of the honor, but tour dates prevented the band from accepting in person at the 2013 UNT Alumni Awards dinner.
The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors UNT alumni under the age of 40 who have made an impact in their chosen field and by doing so, bring distinction to the university.
The four band members met as UNT students and began their career playing in Denton clubs. The band earned its first platinum record with "Crazy Girl" in 2011, selling more than 1.5 million downloads of the track. The band’s last album, Life at Best, was released in August 2011. Last year, the band returned to UNT to film the Life at Best music video on campus. The Eli Young Band won Song of the Year at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards, and was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Even If It Breaks Your Heart."
"Being a part of UNT for so many years, we built the band there and we built our lives that we have now — it all started at UNT," Diaz said.