Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 7:50 am | Fair 42º


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Michael ‘T.T.’ McGrew Remembered for Living His Young Life to the Fullest

The 18-year-old 'warrior' and son of a Santa Barbara police sergeant dies after 6-year battle with cancer

Tough times don’t last; tough people do. It’s a quote that helped Michael “T.T.” McGrew power through life. After battling cancer for six years, he died last week at age 18, but friends, family, community members and nearly anyone who had ever met him remembered a tough, friendly and inspiring person who lived life to the fullest no matter what problems he faced.

“When he was 12 years old, our lives changed,” said Santa Barbara police Sgt. Mike McGrew, Michael’s father.

Hundreds of people packed Calvary Chapel on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside at a memorial service Thursday afternoon to pay their respects to someone who lived the last years of his life in defiance of a rare type of bone cancer.

“It was a short 18 years, but there were a lot of fun times in those 18 years,” McGrew reminisced, telling friends, family members and the community in a soft voice how much he appreciated their support throughout his son’s long illness.

He said his son, whom he called T.T., left anyone who had come to comfort him feeling better than before they came.

“Once you met him, you liked him. Everyone liked him,” said McGrew, adding that even with a prosthetic leg — his son had to have his left leg amputated because of the cancer at age 12 — Michael never tired of playing sports, hunting, camping and engaging in all sorts of outdoor activities. “The kid was courageous. He never let anything stop him.”

A Santa Barbara City Fire Department crew honors Michael
A Santa Barbara City Fire Department crew honors Michael “T.T.” McGrew outside Calvary Chapel. (Ben Preston / Noozhawk photo)

McGrew shared a particularly touching story about a bear hunt they took courtesy of Hunt of a Lifetime — an organization that provides hunting trips for children afflicted with life-threatening illness. Michael could have picked anywhere and any animal, McGrew said, but he chose to hunt grizzly bears in Alaska.

After they arrived, it took a bit of time to get squared away and select the bear they were going to track, but once they honed in on it, they followed it for four days.

“We thought we were hunting the bear, but it didn’t take long for us to figure out that he was hunting us,” said McGrew, recalling that their guide, noticing that the bear had circled behind them, saw it just as it stood up and began to charge. McGrew said they were able to kill the bear before it got them — even though it got within 15 feet of where they were standing — and walk away with the experience of a lifetime.

McGrew said that no matter who his son met, whether friends, family or the many famous people he connected with through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, everyone walked away inspired by a person who seemed to care more about other people than himself. He called Michael a warrior who had fought many battles in life, but was ready to rest.

“He warmed a lot of hearts,” McGrew said, and asked everyone to remember his son and the love he brought out of people.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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