Senator John McCain, who died on Saturday at 81-years-old after battling brain cancer, will be memorialized in multiple events this week. In his adopted state of Arizona, where he lived for well over 30 years, McCain will lay in state in the state capitol on Wednesday and on Thursday, there will be a funeral service at North Phoenix Baptist Church.
Three of the biggest sports stars in recent Arizona history will be part of that service.
Larry Fitzgerald to speak
According to McCain’s official website, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of six individuals who will read a tribute to to McCain.
Vice President Joe Biden, former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods, Raza Development Fund president Tommy Espinoza and two of his seven children will also offer tributes or Biblical readings.
Fitzgerald has spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Cardinals, and in that time became an admirer and friend of McCain; last Christmas, he penned a piece for Sports Illustrated explaining why he so greatly admires the statesman.
“I’m not much of a political guy, but I am fascinated with history and in particular learning about the impact war has had on so many lives,” Fitzgerald wrote. “I knew a few things about the senator just from playing in Arizona and getting to know him over the years. He is also an avid Cardinals fan and attends our games and practices from time to time, so our relationship has grown throughout my career.”
On Twitter, Fitzgerald posted a picture of himself and McCain in Washington, D.C., looking over the National Mall toward the Washington Monument.
“Rest in peace to an American hero, statesman, servant of the people, and dear friend. Godspeed Senator McCain. My prayers for Cindy and the beautiful McCain family,” he wrote.
Shane Doan, Luis Gonzalez to take part
While Fitzgerald is the only athlete doing a tribute, two other greats will serve as pallbearers: Shane Doan, who played 21 seasons in the NHL, 20 of them in Phoenix after the Winnipeg Jets moved south; and Luis Gonzalez, who spent eight years of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In a statement posted by the Coyotes, Doan said in part, “Senator McCain was a shining example of what a modern leader should be. He represented Arizona and the United States with class and dignity. And the courage and incredible strength he demonstrated, in every test a man could face, impacted everyone who simply heard his story.”