ORANGE, Calif. -- A trip to the gym means more to Scott Sawyer than just a workout. It reminds the Irvine resident where he's been and what he's gone through.
"There was a string of four years there that it was a little hard to stomach," Sawyer said.
When he was 15 years old, Sawyer's dad died from cancer. Two years later, his mother died after suffering a stroke. His stepsister died from breast cancer two years later when Sawyer was 19 years old.
Sawyer said he turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with his loss. At 345 pounds, he was dangerously obese.
Shortly after his mother's death, his best friend, Riley Johnson, pushed Sawyer to make some serious changes. Johnson is now the general manager of Anytime Fitness in Orange, the gym Sawyer attends. Johnson sent us this story using the #abc7eyewitness.
"[Sawyer] has basically gone from rock bottom to a person that I really look up to and I learn from on an everyday basis," Johnson said.
Now 26 years old, Sawyer has lost more than 160 pounds. He's engaged, works in real estate and is taking college classes in business administration.
His mother's birthday is tattooed over his heart, a constant reminder to keep improving.
"After she passed away, I felt like I owed it to her to not only stay in shape, but to get into better shape," Sawyer said.
He hopes his story can encourage others dealing with loss and keep them from letting tragedy define their lives.
"If you keep pushing and you're relentless about what you want to do, I'm living proof that you can do anything that you want," he said.
Sawyer's other stepsister is currently battling breast cancer. He says he's doing everything he can to be there for her.
Tragic loss of 3 family members pushes California man into health kick
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