Kind, entertaining, dynamic, optimistic, always put others first
Michael was a unique individual with an irresistible, sweet and loving personality. As a toddler he entertained everyone with his quirky, distinctive antics. As he got older he developed a strong and somewhat defiant personality with an underlying heart of gold. He would intervene when kids were being bullied and spend time with those who were on the margins of acceptance.
The kindness and light that shone through Michael was almost unearthly. He was rambunctious, outspoken and funny with an expansive personality. He was energetic, spirited and filled with life. He was often goofy and rarely walked into a room; but came in hopping and hugged everyone present. He was also renowned for singing female pop music, like Taylor Swift, Halsey and Katie Perry at the top of his lungs.
In middle and high school Michael was passionate about football and baseball, lettering in both. He was recruited to several colleges on scholarships. He was popular, good looking, loving, kindhearted and humble. Then things began to change.
In Michael’s first year in college his family realized he had an addiction problem, progressing from Adderall, through other drugs to heroin. Michael lost his spot as the star running back on the football team and spiraled downward. His confidence and coping skills declined and his grades dropped. “The Michael we knew was slowly disappearing,” his mom said. A couple years later his dad found Michael unresponsive and revived him with Narcan. His parents were at a loss, trying to understand how this could happen.
There were numerous rehabs and relapses, but Michael continued to work at sobriety. He got his certification as a personal trainer and became highly respected in his field. He coached football at his old high school. It seemed that the previous Michael was returning to his family. But sobriety was illusive, never lasting for more than nine months at a time. His mother believes that the stigma and shame of having a substance use disorder kept him from fully being able to deal with his illness.
Still, Michael persevered and began a relationship with the love of his life. He wanted to get married and have children. In time, the drugs once again took over and he lost everything. He seemed broken, but he pulled himself up, got a new job and had many wonderful clients who loved him. By fall of 2019 he was sober for a year and doing better than ever. His mom was training with him and they were building a stronger relationship together. In the early months of 2020, there was change once again. As the pandemic forced his gym to close, Michael became anxious and tense, a few months later he died from from Carfentynl and Fentenyl poisoning.
Due to the pandemic, no proper burial or funeral was held; the family hopes to hold one next year. For now they are somewhat comforted by the many condolences they received, such as this one: “I’ve never met anyone like your son; he stole everyone’s heart. He was just that precious of a soul.” Michael’s mother, Cathy, is now putting her energy toward supporting those who have lost a loved one to drug induced homicide and fighting for legislative change though her work as Co-President of the Parent & Family movement against lethal drugs.
Michael’s mother, Cathy Lawley, provided the information for this narrative.
January 4, 1989-March 23,2020
Age 31-Lived with addiction 10 years