Miley Cyrus and Justin Gaston
10/07/2008 at 02:00 PM EDT
Billy Ray Cyrus tells PEOPLE that his daughter Miley's relationship with 20-year-old Justin Gaston is "a good thing."
"Justin's a good friend. A good friend of the family," he says. "I met Justin as I was hosting Nashville Star
and I introduced the two of them. He's a good kid. Great heart. Lives for the light and he's very talented."
Gaston helped celebrate at Miley’s early sweet sixteen
party over the weekend (her actual birthday is Nov. 23), joining Billy Ray on a rendition of "Achy Breaky Heart." The young couple cuddled later that evening while watching fireworks.
Billy Ray has also said of Gaston, "He actually reminds me a lot of myself when I was 20 years old and I was living and searching for the dream," according to Access Hollywood"
Reporting by JESSICA HERNDON