Macklemore Honors His Grandma Helen, A Breast Cancer Survivor


By Scott T. Sterling

As one of the headliners at this year’s We Can Survive concert, a fundraiser for the battle against breast cancer, rapper Macklemore has a very close and personal connection with that ongoing fight.

Related: Macklemore Parties with His Grandma in ‘Glorious’ Video

“My grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was probably around four or five years old. And if she wouldn’t have had resources, if she wouldn’t have had access, if she wouldn’t have had health insurance, she wouldn’t be here today,” he shared during an exclusive interview with

“She just hit 100 years old. It’s my grandma Helen. She’s very special to me in my life. She was the star of my last music video, actually, which is not what really my grandma means to me, but a very cool way to celebrate her 100th birthday,” he said, referencing the feel-good clip for his single, “Glorious.”

“She has been kind of my style icon. The funniest person in my family, she is a gem,” he added. “She was able to fight breast cancer, but for quite a while it wasn’t looking like she was gonna make it. It was very close. I wouldn’t have grown up with my grandma the way that I did, like so many kids don’t get to. So it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Macklemore revealed how he made the initial connection with his grandmother over a shared love of fashion.

“My grandma was the first person to ever get me a pair of shoes that were over $30,” he said. “I wanted some Jordans as a kid. My parents were like, ‘Definitely not gonna happen.’ Those were $50. Grandma came through for Christmas. The red and white 4s. Those were my first J’s. Ever since we’ve had a special bond over shoes. She’s the only person in my family who might have a better shoe closet than I do.”

“According to her, back in the day, she was very bad kid,’” he added, making air quotes for emphasis. “And by bad, she probably just means she was up to some mischief. I think that I got that mischievous side from her. She always used to have furs when I was growing up. She’s my style icon. She’s that person in my family. So I’ve always shared that bond and always looked up to her.”

Related: We Can Survive 2017 Lineup Announced

Macklemore will join Alessia Cara, Harry Styles, Kesha, Khalid, Lorde, P!nk, Sam Hunt and Sam Smith at the fifth annual We Can Survive concert at the historic Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, October 21.

Tickets are on sale now through

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for every ticket sold, $2 will benefit Young Survival Coalition, the premier organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

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