Tim McGraw shares personal fight with cancer, including dad’s death and mom’s remission

Inspired by loved ones who battled cancer, country music star Tim McGraw knows how to “Live Like You Were Dying.”

The song, that was inspired by McGraw’s dad who died from cancer in 2004, was the first in his many years of advocacy for the disease that also tried to take the life of his mom and other family members.

McGraw continues to lend his voice as the ambassador of Stand Up to Cancer and recently, he made it possible for a father, who’s dying of cancer, to be at the future weddings of his two young daughters.

Keep reading to learn more about McGraw’s fight to end cancer!
Tim McGraw fans will never forget when he collapsed on stage in 2018, right after he performed the song, “Humble and Kind.”

After 20 minutes, his wife, fellow country star Faith Hill, stepped out on stage and announced to concert goers that “He’s been super dehydrated, and I apologize. But I made the decision that he cannot come back out onstage.”

Luckily, it was only dehydration behind his medical episode, but his family members have not had the same fortune.

His dad, Frank “Tug” McGraw–the pitcher with MLB teams the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies–was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, and was only 59 when he died in 2004.

Now 56, McGraw–who only learned at 11 that the famous ball player he idolized was his biological father–said the two shared a special bond.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize I didn’t grow up with Tug,” he said of his dad who coined the rallying cry “Ya Gotta Believe!” Explaining that he found his birth certificate while digging through old things, the singer of “It’s Your Love” said it “was very confusing” but knowing his dad was a star athlete, made him realize he could accomplish anything.

“It changed what I thought I could do with my life coming from the circumstances I came from. I felt like when I found that out, you know, he’s a professional baseball player who’s successful, to me, it made me think that blood is in my veins, so that ability is in there.” McGraw continued, “So I found sort of that grit inside me that he must have had in order to succeed at what he did. And it changed what I thought I could make out of my life.”

His 2004 Grammy Award-winning album, “Live Like You Were Dying,” is dedicated to his father, with the title track becoming the top country song on the Billboard year-end charts.

When the singer of “One of These Days” was just a little boy, he also watched his mom

Betty Trimble–who had a brief affair with Tug when she was 18–fight breast cancer when she was 27. Trimble has been in remission since.

“My mom’s been through a lot of adversity and stuck by me when nobody else would,” McGraw said. “She has always encouraged me to sing.”

Along with the support of his mom, and his father before his death, the multiple award-winning country singer is the father of three beautiful girls, has overcome addiction, topped the charts with his music and is also an actor, most recently appearing in the TV series 1883 with his wife.

And he’s still active advocate for people living with cancer.

In 2019, McGraw was the voice in the “Rewrite the Skies” campaign between Stand up to Cancer and American Airlines. “Every family in America has a cancer story, my own family included. Too many of us have lost our parents, children, spouses and friends to this terrible disease.” He continued, “I’m honored to lend my voice to this campaign to help create a world where all cancer patients can become long-term survivors and have more time with the people they love.”

In February 2023, McGraw “rolled out the red carpet” for Mike Hugo, who 10 months before was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, the same cancer that took his father.

Planning for the future weddings of his daughters, Brooke and Bridget–now only seven and six–and wanting to “to be part of that wonderful day,” Hugo posted a video wish on Facebook, hoping to get the attention of McGraw.

“One of my dreams is to be with my little girls for their wedding and be there dancing with them, but statistically, it’s going to be tough,” he said of the aggressive cancer that typically has a survival rate of only 10 to 15 months. “I’m going to fight hard to get there, but one of my dreams, or goals, is to do a duet [of] ‘My Little Girl’ with Tim McGraw.”

The request made its rounds and hit they eyes of McGraw, who soon after met with Hugo and his wife, along with their two girls, and filmed a video to be viewed on their big days, which will surely be emotional.

“He just couldn’t have been more gracious with his time and energy,” Hugo said of the “Don’t Take the Girl” star. “He still took the time to sing with somebody [who] can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

McGraw shared the moment on his Instagram, writing “Thanx to everyone who shared Mike Hugo’s video on social media and tagged me in the comments. So glad we were able to actually get together in person, meet this amazing family, and make it happen!”

He continued, “Mike is saving the videos for his daughters’ future weddings… what a special thing to be a part of.”

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