Tyrone Leon McGraw, 29, of San Francisco, CA, passed away peacefully with his girlfriend Mayte Sanchez by his side on June 18, 2017, after a courageous three-year long battle with cancer.
Tyrone was an accomplished athlete, a noted scholar, a legislative staff member, a supportive partner, a mentor and friend. Beyond his accomplishments, those who knew him recall his kindness, humility, fortitude, and optimism. Tyrone was exceptional, but he always reminded others that they had the capability to be exceptional as well. While he has left us, his example will continue to inspire those who knew him.
Tyrone grew up in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. He suffered a number of losses at an early age. When his mother, Leona, passed away when he was 14, he went to live with his godparents Brad and Cherell. His godfather died four months later. After these painful losses, Tyrone found the motivation to continue along the path they had started out for him to honor all they had sacrificed. With the continued help of his godmother and the community, he was able to continue his education.
He went to Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco where he was Valedictorian and set school records on the football field and running track. For these achievements and others, then-Mayor Gavin Newson presented Tyrone with a Certificate of Honor on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco. He always valued his time as a Crusader, and stayed connected with his school and community.
After graduating high school, he turned down offers from Ivy League schools to go on and attend Stanford, where he excelled both on the field and in the classroom. He played two years of Varsity Football and ran Track for four years. He still holds the school record in the indoor 60-meter race. In his constant quest to improve himself and expand his horizons, he studied abroad both at Oxford and in Berlin.
As an undergraduate, Tyrone also externed for U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who initially overturned Proposition 209, and then Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Ron George. After these judicial experiences, he received an internship at the White House under President Barack Obama.
After graduating with Honors from Stanford, he taught 9th grade at the Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men at the South Side of Chicago. Towards the end of his life, Tyrone spoke about how this experience was one of his proudest as he felt he was able to do some of his most meaningful work with his students.
Tyrone returned home to California to learn more about politics and public policy. He was accepted into the California State Assembly Fellowship program where he would meet his girlfriend, Mayte. He was placed in the office of Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra and later joined as the lead budget advisor to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, the chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee which oversaw $114 billion of annual funding. Even after his initial diagnosis in 2014, Tyrone continued his work schedule and active extracurricular activities.
To try and describe Tyrone's life as a series of accomplishments, during his nearly three decades, does not accurately capture the impact of this brilliant young man. There was a vibrancy and a positive attitude he carried that was impossible to ignore. He didn't just work to improve his community, he built relationships and worked to improve the people in his community.
He was able to instantly build a connection and make you feel comfortable around him, whether you were one of his students in Chicago or the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. His constant quest for knowledge and self-improvement was infectious and made you want to do better, to rise to his standards.
His passage leaves a void in our community and our hearts. Before his godfather Brad Hallett passed, he reminded Tyrone that it was important to "always remember the opportunities you've been given. And always remember to give back to the community that's given so much to you." Tyrone never forgot where he came from.
He always kept fighting and always worked to lift up those around him. No matter the challenge, Tyrone got up every single day and kept fighting. Although he was taken from us far too soon, his legacy will live on in the hearts of all that knew him.
He is survived by his love Mayte who was with him during his courageous fight; his godmother Cherell; his siblings Angel, Marcus, Tiara, Keith, and Mya; his father Tyrone; his aunts Gwendolyn, Sharon, and Dolores; his twelve nieces and nephews; his cousins Marissa, Mariah, Deion, Shelley and Teresa; his godsons Armani and Chase; and a host of other relatives and friends.
A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, July 8th at Archbishop Riordan High School at 11 AM. A scholarship for African-American and Latino students to attend Riordan has been established in his name and people can contribute at tinyurl.com/tlmcgraw and then select the "Tyrone L. McGraw Scholarship".