Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dies At Age 46

By McCarton Ackerman 03/22/16

The always-quotable former politician whose fall from grace made headlines passed away early Tuesday morning. 

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dies At Age 46
photo via Shutterstock/rmnoa357

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford died Tuesday morning from a rare form of cancer known as pleomorphic liposarcoma. He was 46 years old.

Ford’s family released a brief statement in which they said the Toronto city councillor was a “dedicated man of the people” who “spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto.”

Ford had been undergoing treatment for the rare and fast-growing cancer for the last 18 months, after being diagnosed in 2014. His abdominal tumor had significantly shrunk through multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. He underwent surgery last May to treat the cancer and it was initially hailed as a success.

“I’m just lucky to be alive today, and I’m just lucky to get another chance at life,” he said last April before the surgery. “At least I have a chance.”

But months later, two new tumors were discovered and he underwent additional rounds of chemotherapy. He entered a clinical trial this month in the hopes of finding a personalized treatment for his cancer. But as his health worsened, it became clear that he likely would not make it through the four-month duration of the trial. His chief of staff, Dan Jacobs, confirmed on Monday that he was moved to palliative care in Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.

The outwardly brash politician will be remembered by his supporters for his uncompromising political style. An obituary published by CBC News describes Ford as a "millionaire with a working-class attitude" with "everyman appeal." The always-quotable politician made headlines in May 2013 after reports surfaced of a video of him allegedly smoking crack cocaine. In November 2013, after months of denying his part in the video, Ford admitted to using crack cocaine “probably in one of my drunken stupors.” 

Thrust into the spotlight by the controversy, Ford continued to shock with his colorful antics. Ford ultimately entered rehab for two months in May 2014 to address substance abuse issues before returning to office. He claimed the facility “saved [his] life” and apologized to the people in Toronto for his bevy of humiliating incidents.

In September 2014, Ford issued a statement while in the hospital that he would not seek re-election in Toronto after discovering he had a tumor. As his health issues worsened, he even held an eBay auction for the tie he wore when he publicly admitted to smoking crack cocaine. But while his personal struggles will likely be remembered just as much as his accomplishments, Ford appeared to take that reality in stride.

“People know that I saved a lot of money, and people are going to know that I had a few personal struggles,” he said told reporters last October. “So you can remember it for what you want, but they're definitely going to remember it.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.