Aloha's Mike Lopez Jr. dies after 16-year battle with ALS

The Aloha community will gather Saturday night to honor the life of Mike Lopez Jr., the former Oregon State University safety and son of Portland-area coaching legend Mike Lopez.

A memorial service will begin at 5 p.m. at Lopez Jr.’s alma mater in the Aloha High School Auditorium, 18550 S.W. Kinnaman Road.

Lopez Jr., 49, died Jan. 2 after waging a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for 16 years. He lived for many years using a respirator so he could watch his daughters — Megan, 20, a sophomore at Oregon State, and Molly, 15, a sophomore at Wilsonville High School — grow TIMES FILE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - In this 2009 photo, Mike Lopez Jr., is joined by (from left) sister Susan Lopez-Henri, mother Katherine and father Mike Lopez Sr.

“That’s pretty much the reason Mike fought so hard to stay alive,” said his father, head football coach at Benson and Aloha high schools for many years and who is still involved in coaching the Warrior program.

Though the former star running back for Aloha High School’s football program was bedridden and unable to talk for the last several years, Lopez Jr. was able to communicate through eye-blinking and lip-reading by family members and a professional caregiver.

It was a difficult way to live, but Lopez Jr. did it with grace and a remarkably positive attitude, those who knew him said.

During his life, he established the Mike Lopez Jr. Foundation, and for the past six years has run an annual golf tournament, with proceeds directed toward ALS research and financial aid for ALS patients.

The senior Lopez said the family has received condolences from hundreds of friends of Mike Jr. and the family.

“People have been extraordinary,” Lopez said. “It’s been wonderful.”by: FILE PHOTO - Mike Lopez Jr. helps up an Arizona opponent during his football career at Oregon State.

Nobody was more proud of Mike Jr. and the way he handled his disease than his father.

“A dear friend of ours said it best,” Lopez said. “Courage, overcoming adversity, perserverence — all of those things apply. But the thing that really applies is just that Mike was special.”

Michael Eugene Lopez Jr. was born Dec. 11, 1963, in Denver, Colo.

He is survived by his daughters, Megan and Molly; parents, Michael Lopez Sr. and Katherine Lopez of Aloha; sisters, Kristin Lopez-York and Susan Lopez-Henri of Aloha; three nieces, Amy York, Katie York and Sydnie Henri; nephew, Justin O’Donnell; great nephew, Isaiah Cantu; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

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