Controversial former Toronto mayor Rob Ford dies at 46

Mayor Rob Ford pauses while participating in a mayoral debate in Toronto. (Darren Calabrese /The Canadian Press via AP)
The Associated Press

MONTREAL — Rob Ford, the controversial former mayor of Toronto who made international headlines with his admission that he smoked crack cocaine while in office, died in a Toronto hospital on Tuesday. He was 46.

“With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father, Councillor Rob Ford earlier today at the age of 46,” Ford’s chief of staff Dan Jacobs wrote in a statement.

“A dedicated man of the people, Councillor Ford spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto,” the statement said.

Ford was elected mayor in 2010 on a campaign promise to “stop the gravy train” in the city.

But the boisterous, overweight and combative Ford was stripped by the Toronto City Council of most of his powers in 2013 after reports of his drug abuse and drinking binges.

He became known to millions around the world as the “crack-smoking Canadian mayor” after admitting that he smoked crack cocaine “in drunken stupor.”

Ford was first diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma, a rare form of abdominal cancer, in September 2014.

He was forced to withdraw from the mayoral race and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Still, he refused to give up on his political career.

Pale and visibly sick, he campaigned to be elected as a city councillor in his fiefdom of Ward 2 Etobicoke North, a western suburb of Toronto that was his powerbase, and handily won.

He underwent surgery in May 2015, to remove the tumor.

But barely six months later, Ford announced that doctors had found another tumor near his bladder. He underwent further treatments, but they were unsuccessful.

Ford leaves behind his wife, Renata, and their two young children, Stephanie and Douglas. He is also survived by his brothers Doug and Randy, sister Kathy and mother Diane.