Tim McGraw talks diabetes, music and cheering on those darn Mets at Wrigley Field

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Tim McGraw | Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Throughout his career, country megastar Tim McGraw has delivered many a message through is music: love, tolerance, grieving for a loved one, hope, and just having a good ol’ time.

But there’s another message McGraw is delivering loud and clear these days: If you or someone you know and love is suffering from Type 2 diabetes, take control of your health care now. Specifically, McGraw has partnered with the American Diabetes Association in a PSA campaignfor the “America’s Diabetes Challenge,” a new initiative urging all people with Type 2 diabetes to have an individualized A1C goal and to pledge to work with their doctors to reach that goal.

In Chicago to talk about the challenge, McGraw is no stranger to the illness, which, according to statistics from the ADA, affects 29.1 million Americans.

“I have an aunt who died from complications of Type 2 diabetes,” McGraw said, “and another aunt living with diabetes. And a very close friend of mine currently dealing with diabetes. There are nearly 30 million people living with diabetes. You don’t have to think very far outside your circles of family and friends to find someone who is living with the illness. When ADA asked me to be a part of their challenge, I just thought this is something that fits with my lifestyle of living healthy. And as an artist you can make a difference because I know I can raise awareness about diabetes and helping people live better lives, getting to their doctors, managing the disease. You want people to go their doctors, find out what their health is really like, make the changes they can make in their lifestyles to help prevent the disease or manage it. This is a manageable illness. Your health is in your hands. You have to be proactive.”

McGraw, who has sold more than 40 million records, boasts 36 No. 1 singles, three Grammys, 14 CMAs and countless other accolades, says he practices what he preaches.

“I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he said. I try to get myself to where [I’ll be able to]see my family grow up, see my kids grow up, see where their lives lead. On the road it’s actually easier for me to work out. [Laughs] Being at home, you have your family, you want to go out and eat with friends. There’s tailgating for football games. On the road there’s a routine we get into every day. So I work out to keep my body, and my career, in shape.”

That career includes the release of his new album, “Damn Country Music,” due Nov. 6, his 14th studio album, and second on the Big Machine Records label. (The CD’sfirst single, “Top of the World,” was released in August and dedicated to the astronauts aboard the Space Station). The new album also featuresMcGraw’s eldestdaughter, Gracie, on one of the cuts, “Here Tonight.”

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 09: Singer Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, attend the Premiere Of Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ at AMC Downtown Disney 12 Theater on May 9, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 09: Singer Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, attend the Premiere Of Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ at AMC Downtown Disney 12 Theater on May 9, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“She’s in first semester of college now,” McGraw said of his 18-year-old daughter (he and country superstar Faith Hill have two other daughters, Maggie, 17, and Audrey 14.). “All my girls can sing. You want them to follow their passion, but as a father, [Laughs] I want them to have a [college] degree first! She’s studying music and she also writes songs. … She’s way better than me at writing!”

As for the album, McGraw said: “It’s not an album that has a constant theme all the way through; it’s just a collection of really great songs. It does have songs that remind me of the music I loved and what inspired me to move to Nashville. There’s certainly music that’s characteristic of what I’ve done throughout my career. But there’s a lot of influences of modern music as well… It’s a mixture of all of that. Most of my records sort of are. There’s some good life lessons songs on this album. I’ve always tried to do that.”

The album is co-produced by McGraw’s longtime partner, Byron Gallimore. It’s a music “dynamic duo” if ever there was one.

“We started working together in 1991,” McGraw said. “Byron is just so good at what he does. He allows me to go into the studio and be the artist. I can talk to him about my vision for an album or a song, and not being a technical musician, I know he understands what I want and makes [it happen].”

McGraw also said he’ll be at Wrigley Field tonight for the Cubs-Mets National League Championship Series playoff game. It’s, well, in his blood. McGraw’s dad was the late great Mets (and later Phillies) pitcher Tug McGraw, who first pitched against the Cubs at Wrigley in 1965.And while McGraw’shealthy lifestyle might notallow for deep dish pizza, he said he will try a hot dog tonight at the ball park.

Tug McGraw, Mets relief pitcher, (pictured in 1973) winds up after he replaced Jerry Koosman for Mets in seventh inning of fifth World Series game against A’S.McGraw held A’S in check as Mets won, 2-0. | AP FILE PHOTO/AP

Tug McGraw, Mets relief pitcher, (pictured in 1973) winds up after he replaced Jerry Koosman for Mets in seventh inning of fifth World Series game against A’S.McGraw held A’S in check as Mets won, 2-0. | AP FILE PHOTO/AP

“And I’ll be wearing my Mets jersey,” McGraw said with a hearty laugh. “I gotta wear it. There’s a familial history there. I’ve actually never been to Wrigley Field.”

In addition to his trademark cowboy hat, McGraw is sporting another accessory these days, far more unique and close to his heart: His dad’s World Series ring (Philadelphia Phillies, 1980).

“I AMwearing it,” McGraw beamed. “I only wear it during World Series time. I just like to wear it during this time of year.”

His prediction for the Cubs-Mets series?

“I’m not gonna predict the outcome. I just know the Mets have been rolling really hot right now. And in baseball, when you’re on a roll like that it’s really hard to beat that. I like to say I’m a National League fan. I’m rooting for the Mets. But whatever team wins, I’ll support it. If the Cubs win, I’ll take a picture of me in a Cubs jersey.”

I’ll take an 8-by-10 of that one.

Follow @MiriamDiNunzio

Posted Oct. 20, 2015.

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