Christopher Lawford died of a heart attack at age 63 in Vancouver on Tuesday

By Emily Zauzmer
September 06, 2018 02:40 PM
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Greg Doherty/Getty Images; Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Maria Shriver paid tribute to her cousin Christopher Lawford in a heartfelt Instagram post remembering how “full of love” and life the actor was.

Lawford died of a heart attack at age 63 in Vancouver on Tuesday, according to the AP. Shriver’s mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Lawford’s mother, Patricia Kennedy, were sisters whose famous siblings also included President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Shriver, 62, wrote on Instagram, “This handsome, loving, fun man is my cousin Christopher Lawford. He passed away suddenly yesterday. He was my age, full of love and very much alive.”

“It took me a bit to think about how best to share about him and I do believe he would want me to share about him,” she continued. “He lived a big life and he cared deeply about life. He fought for his and in turn he fought to help so many people dealing with addiction issues. He was really at the forefront of the recovery movement, using his own story to save others, to help them feel less alone. I was always in awe of his courage, his bravery and his honesty.”

Lawford used LSD and heroin until the mid-1980s. In 1980, he was arrested for impersonating a doctor to secure prescription medication. The charges were dropped.

Lawford, who said he was motivated to get clean after cousin David Kennedy‘s fatal drug overdose, became a recovery advocate and wrote books such as When Your Partner Has an Addiction: How Compassion Can Transform Your Relationship (And Heal You Both in the Process). He was also known for his roles in shows like General Hospital, All My Children and Frasier, and movies like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Shriver added, “We had dinner last week and he was so happy, proud of his kids, proud of his family, proud that he was where he was in his life. I told him I loved him, that I was proud of him, that I was so blessed to have him in my life, as he has been a witness to my whole life and I to his.

“It’s been written that he was an actor and a Kennedy but he was so much more than that,” she continued. “He carved out his own life and those who knew him, who were helped by him, who read his books, who heard him speak, knew he was his own man.”

Shriver said, “He was Christopher Kennedy Lawford… Father, husband, brother, cousin, sponsor, advocate, healer, lover and warrior. Today may you honor those who have been with you for the long haul, those who know every part of you and who love you anyway, those who have stood in the storm and survived, and those fighting for their sobriety. Tell them you love them that you see them and believe in them.”

Jenna Bush Hager, a daughter of a different political dynasty, commented on Shriver’s post, “This is beautiful. Sending all the love.”

Bill Greene/The Boston Globe/Getty

Several other Kennedy cousins have remembered Lawford, whose father was actor Peter Lawford, since his death.

Bobby Shriver wrote, “#Chrislawford was a fighter. He fought his addiction every day. He fought for his beautiful children. He visited his friends. He brought his dogs everywhere. A lifelong buddy. He won because he always tried hard. Blessings on his many friends, wonderful sisters and kids.”

Patrick Kennedy wrote, “The recovery community lost a founding father today. My cousin, Chris Lawford, passed away from a heart attack yesterday evening. To the world he was an author, actor, & activist, but to the recovery community he was a pioneer – living proof that long-term recovery was possible.”

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Kerry Kennedy wrote, “We mourn the loss of my cousin Christopher Lawford.”

Lawford is survived by children David, Savannah and Matt and sisters Sydney, Victoria and Robin.