At the 61st Grammy Awards held on Sunday evening, 14-year-old Toni and 13-year-old Christopher accepted their father's posthumous award for Best Rock Performance for the song “When Bad Does Good.”
After accepting the award, Toni spoke to news outlets backstage and explained that taking the stage in honor of their father was a very emotional experience.
“It was very difficult,” Toni told reporters, including PEOPLE, backstage after the awards. “We miss him so much and we saw him work on this so hard — he was always working on it music [because] it was his passion."
"It was really sad in a way to feel like he couldn’t be there himself to accept it for something that he was so proud of and worked so hard on,” she added, then going on to say, “We’re so proud of him. It was amazing.”
The teens also spoke about the star-studded tribute concert that was held in honor of Cornell in January, which was a five-hour show titled I Am The Highway that featured performances from Cornell's band Soundgarden, as well as Metallica, Miley Cyrus, Ryan Adams, and the Foo Fighters.
“I mean, it was amazing. I loved every single person who performed. It just really showed who he was and I love that,” Toni said, with Christopher adding, “I agree with mostly everything she says. It was just beautiful to watch. The amazing people that came and helped perform – it was beautiful.”
Cornell passed away in 2017, with the coroner ruling his death a suicide. His family, however, has been adamant that he never displayed suicidal tendencies, with his wife Vicky stating that she believes the medication Atavan may have had a negative side-effect which resulted in his death.
“My Chris was happy, loving, caring and warm,” she said in a previous interview with PEOPLE. “This was not a depressed man — it wasn’t like I missed that. What I missed were the signs of addiction.” Vicky believes that if her husband had not relapsed on drugs that night, he would not have died.
“He didn’t want to die,” she added. “If he was of sound mind, I know he wouldn’t have done this… Addiction is a disease. That disease can take over you and has full power.”
Cornell was 52 years old at the time of his tragic death.