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‘CSI’ Star Gary Sinise’s Son Was Paralyzed from Chest Down Yet Kept Doing His One Favorite Thing

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Mac Sinise, son of “CSI” star Gary Sinise, tragically passed away at 33 after battling a rare form of cancer.
Despite paralysis from the chest down, Mac kept doing one thing that kept his spirit and soul going.
Now, as much as his family is devastated by losing Mac, they are finding solace in the fact that he is no longer in pain.

 

Gary Sinise’s son, Mac Sinise, died at the age of 33 after a long illness with a rare form of cancer. The Gary Sinise Foundation published a tribute announcing that Mac died on January 6, 2024.

Mac was laid to rest on January 23, 2024. Gary spoke of how bravely his son fought an uphill battle with a cancer that had no cure. The “CSI: New York” star was proud, fortunate, and blessed to be Mac’s dad.

 

In a long and emotional tribute, Gary opened up about Mac’s life. He revealed that his son had been playing drums since he was nine years old. As an exceptional drummer, Mac would substitute for Gary’s drummer, Danny Gottlieb. He would play drums at “CSI: New York.” rap parties with the Lt. Dan Band.

He sweetly recalled, “Those were some great times, father and son rockin’ out together for the troops.” However, Gary’s family was rocked when mother and son were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other.

 

Gary Sinise and Moira Harris attend the ceremony to honor Gary Sinise with a Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame in Hollywood, California, on April 17, 2017. | Source: Getty Images

The summer of 2018 posed significant challenges for Gary’s family. In June of that year, his wife Moira Harris, received a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer. Following lymph node surgery, she commenced chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

 

Gary Sinise and Moira Harris during "The Big Bounce" premiere at Mann Village Westwood in Westwood, California, on January 29, 2004. | Source: Getty Images

Then, on August 8, 2018, Gary’s family received the startling news of Mac’s diagnosis with a rare cancer called Chordoma. This revelation left them reeling, as they grappled with the rarity and severity of the disease.

 

Mac Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

Gary dived online and found out that Chordoma, a cancer originating in the spine, is exceedingly rare, affecting approximately 300 individuals in the United States annually.

He also learned that while 70% of cases allow for successful removal of the initial tumor and subsequent cure, the remaining 30% face the distressing possibility of cancer recurrence, presenting a daunting challenge for his family.

Luckily, Gary’s wife went into treatment and was soon in remission. Her cancer hasn’t returned since. However, for Mac, the battle was harder. Following the surgery to eliminate the initial tumor in September 2018, Mac underwent an additional spinal procedure in February 2019 to deal with what appeared to be an infection.

 

Gary Sinise Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame in Hollywood, California, on April 17, 2017. | Source: Getty Images

Regrettably, a subsequent scan in May 2019 showed that his Chordoma had resurfaced and was spreading. Thus began a prolonged battle, during which Mac’s condition worsened over time, posing greater challenges to his well-being.

 

Mac and Gary Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

Even as the cancer fight got harder in 2019, Mac still went to the Gary Sinise Foundation’s offices. He stopped going to the office in 2019 after a third spine surgery in November 2019. Before he was diagnosed with cancer, Mac’s position at the foundation was the Assistant Manager of Education and Outreach as of February 27, 2017.

 

Mac and Gary Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

Gary’s son’s responsibilities involved managing the Gary Sinise Foundation archive, digitizing materials, and overseeing operations at the foundation’s Education & Outreach Center. This included organizing events, conducting tours, engaging with donors, and reaching out to military service members, veterans, first responders, and their families who received the foundation’s support.

 

Gary Sinise filming on location for "CSI: New York" in New York City, on October 1, 2012. | Source: Getty Images

Gary noted that Mac Sinise had a friendly demeanor, so, he made a positive impact on visitors at the Gary Sinise: A Call-to-Action exhibit and contributed to various local and national events.

 

Gary Sinise and Moira Harris during "The Big Bounce" Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, on January 29, 2004. | Source: Getty Images

The actor said having Mac on the team was a blessing as he was deeply committed to the foundation’s mission and the individuals they assisted. Gary looked forward to seeing his son progress within the organization.

Gary expressed that Mac consistently infused their mission with joy and pride, especially evident during hands-on events such as the Soaring Valor gatherings, which honored WWII heroes, and the Invincible Spirit Festivals, where the Lt. Dan Band uplifted wounded veterans at military hospitals across the nation.

 

Moira Harris and Gary Sinise (center) with family during World Premiere of "The Cat In The Hat" at Universal Studios Cinemas in Hollywood, California, on November 8, 2003. | Source: Getty Images

Mac’s enthusiasm was evident whenever he joined Gary on the road, and his dedication to their cause shone through in every interaction. “I was eager to watch him grow with the organization,” noted Gary.

Gary reflected on Mac’s determination to contribute to the foundation even while in recovery at home. Despite encountering personal obstacles, Mac enthusiastically began the endeavor of launching the Gary Sinise Foundation.

 

Mac Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

His commitment shone through as he successfully conducted two interviews, one with the foundation’s video producer, Kip Perry, and another with Gary himself. However, in January 2020, on the eve of his fourth spine surgery, Mac recognized the need to step away temporarily from the foundation duties to focus on his health.

 

Gary Sinise speaks during the National Memorial Day Concert - Rehearsals at U.S. Capitol, West Lawn, in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2018. | Source: Getty Images

Gary acknowledged Mac’s decision to prioritize his recovery, understanding that it required his full attention, especially with a fifth spine surgery scheduled for June 2020, followed by radiation and ongoing chemotherapy.

As Mac continued his relentless fight against Chordoma, friends and family wanted to help. So, the family created the page “Team Mac,” where they could raise funds for the highly-required research to find treatments for this rare orphan cancer.

 

Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band perform at the 6th annual "CSI: NY" mid-season bash in Studio City, California, on October 29, 2010. | Source: Getty Images

Mac’s condition worsened when the cancer paralyzed him from the chest down. Due to his disability, he couldn’t play drums and piano anymore. This was a blow to Mac, who was a graduate of the USC Thorton School of Music. At school, he also played drums and studied songwriting and composition. At one point, he played drums at their home’s garage.

Gary recounted how Mac, in 2023, despite his health challenges, found inspiration to revisit a piece of music called “Arctic Circles” that he had composed during his college years but never completed. Mac dubbed his piece “Arctic Circles” as a nod to the wintery nature documentaries that brought him solace during his hospital stays.

Eager to bring the project to fruition, Mac reached out to Dan Myers, the violinist and singer for Gary’s Lt. Dan Band, for collaboration. Despite being paralyzed from the chest down due to cancer, Mac persisted in working on the piece, utilizing his limited mobility.

 

Mac Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

He either worked from his hospital bed at home or in his wheelchair. With a stylus attached to his right hand and a small keyboard on his hospital bed table, Mac found ways to input ideas and refine his music, demonstrating his resilience and determination.

In April 2023, Dan suggested reaching out to pianist Ben Lewis, a longtime friend and fellow bandmate. Mac then got in touch with his college friend, composer, and arranger Oliver Schnee. By June 2023, Mac shared a scratch piano track of “Arctic Circles” recorded by Ben with Oliver.

Impressed, Oliver agreed to help finish it, and they began collaborating. After exchanging notes and fine-tuning, Oliver completed a stunning arrangement. Mac chose July 17, 2023, for the recording session, coinciding with his sister Sophie’s visit.

 

Mac Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

The session was booked at the renowned Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, with Mac financing it himself. Oliver and his father, acclaimed recording engineer and producer Bill Schnee, organized top studio musicians, and Bill oversaw the mixing board.

Mac continued pursuing his love for music as he battled cancer. However, with drumming no longer an option, his mother recommended he try the harmonica. Embracing the suggestion, Mac began teaching himself to play.

Gary, who was inspired by a story from his friend Sammy L. Davis, a Medal of Honor recipient and harmonica player, showed Mac a video of Sammy playing “Shenandoah.” This clip encouraged Mac to learn the tune and he mastered it beautifully.

 

Mac and Gary Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

Gary was impressed by Mac’s rendition, so, he proposed the idea of arranging strings to accompany him. Since Oliver was already orchestrating “Arctic Circles,” Gary thought it made sense to include “Shenandoah” as well.

This collaboration sparked Mac’s vision for an entire album titled “Resurrection & Revival,” centered on the theme of revitalizing old or unfinished works. Mac stayed on a mission to accomplish his vision as much as cancer was a burden for him and his family. His efforts paid off as his full album will soon be available.

Mac was excited to share the album with the world but he couldn’t as the week the album went to press, he departed from this world. Mac celebrated his last birthday during a recording session at Blackbird Studios.

Harry Connick, Jr. made an unexpected appearance to surprise Mac on his 33rd birthday. His surprise visit added an extra layer of joy to the studio session. Mac cut cake with his loved ones and shared a moment of happiness and laughter on his last birthday.

 

Mac Sinise's cake on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

Until Gary’ Sinise’s live interview with Raymond Arroyo on December 29, 2023, the actor had not publicly addressed Mac’s difficult battle.

Sadly, on December 30, 2023, the day after Gary’s interview with Raymond, Mac was rushed to the emergency room due to difficulty breathing. Despite stabilizing him, he was admitted to the hospital. Gary remained by his side, hoping for a routine stay and a return home.

 

Mac and Gary Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

During those initial days, Mac shared his interview with hospital staff, delighted by their reactions to his music videos on his YouTube Channel. However, as the days passed, his condition worsened. On January 5, 2024, at 3:25 a.m., surrounded by his family, he peacefully succumbed to his battle with Chordoma.

Gary’s family expressed gratitude for all those who have extended help, love, and support during their challenging time. They thanked Mac’s caregivers Mimi and Lulu. The family also noted that Mac was known for his deep devotion to his Catholic faith.

 

This commitment undoubtedly provided him with strength throughout his arduous five-and-a-half-year struggle against the debilitating Chordoma cancer. The family disclosed that Mac’s favorite quote from St. Augustine was, “You have made us for yourself oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

 

Mac and Gary Sinise on a video dated February 22, 2024 | Source: Youtube/@macsinise7489

As much as Mac’s family deeply mourns his absence, they find solace in the knowledge that he is now free from his suffering. They are inspired and touched by his remarkable resilience throughout his ordeal especially, since Mac was always focusing on what he could do, and never on what he couldn’t.

Despite facing an insurmountable battle against cancer with no cure, Mac never gave up. His family recognized that his love for movies often drew comparisons to the resilient soldier in the poignant film “1917.”

Like the soldier enduring relentless bombardment on the battlefield, Mac continually rose after each setback, refusing to surrender and pressing onward. Now, with his demise, his family who loves and dearly misses him find comfort in the fact that their loved one is no longer in pain.

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