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Arizona Sen. John McCain, 81, dies after battling brain tumor

McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in July 2017. He served in the Senate while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, until returning to Arizona in December 2017..

Sen. John Sidney McCain III, a son and grandson of Navy admirals who forged his own legacy by surviving brutal torture as a prisoner of war and then rising to the pinnacle of American politics, died Saturday at the age of 81.

He passed away just days before his 82nd birthday, on August 29. Following the announcement Saturday, a procession carrying his body made its way from his home near Sedona to a funeral home in Phoenix.

While details of memorial services have not yet been released, McCain's life is expected to be celebrated in Phoenix and Washington D.C. before his is buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

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His family announced Friday that McCain had chosen to discontinue medical treatment in his battle against brain cancer.

McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in July 2017. He continued to serve in the Senate while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

He left the Capitol in December 2017, returning to his home near Sedona in northern Arizona, for treatment. McCain never returned to Washington and never made a public appearance in the final 13 months of his life.

McCain served his country for 60 years in one of the most remarkable lives in American history.

PHOTOS: Sen. John McCain through the years

In 1954, McCain followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by entering the U.S. Naval Academy.

After graduation, McCain served in the Navy and was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. He was held as a prisoner of war for almost 5 ½ years, enduring brutal torture and refusing to be released before his fellow prisoners.

A military brat who never had a place to call “home” growing up, McCain moved to Arizona in 1982 after marrying Cindy Hensley, daughter of a wealthy beer distributor in Phoenix.

He won a four-way primary for Congress in a solidly Republican district before winning the general election. McCain went on to win re-election in 1984.

MORE: The life and legacy of Sen. John McCain

In 1986, McCain ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by an Arizona icon, Sen. Barry Goldwater. McCain never trailed in the polls.

Arizona voters would send him back to the Senate five more times, but in his final races, conservative Republican voters expressed their displeasure with McCain’s maverick tendencies.

His young political career was almost derailed by the Keating 5 scandal.

Charles Keating, a major McCain campaign donor, was charged with bilking 22,000 depositors out of $250 million.

Keating allegedly showered McCain with gifts in exchange for McCain asking federal regulators to go easy on Keating.

McCain received a slap on the wrist from a Senate ethics committee for poor judgement, but the scandal dogged him for years.

MORE: Arizona, national leaders react to McCain's death

He eventually reinvented himself as the enemy of big-money donors by co-sponsoring the McCain Feingold Act, which set rules for campaign donations.

McCain rose to national prominence in the late ‘90s as “The Maverick,” a lawmaker charting an independent path through the U.S. Senate.

That independent streak served McCain well during his first run for president in 2000. He shocked Republican Party favorite George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary, but went on to lose the nomination to Bush after a dirty showdown in South Carolina.

Eight years later, McCain ran again. He won the Republican nomination and then stunned the political world with his choice for vice president: Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a political unknown.

McCain faced the severe headwinds of the financial crisis and an electorate weary of eight years of President Bush.

He lost the election to Democrat Barack Obama. Over the next decade, McCain would defend Palin and himself from intense criticism that she wasn’t fit for a job that’s a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Writing in his memoir released in May, however, McCain confessed that should have gone with his gut and picked former Democratic senator and buddy Joe Lieberman for the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket.

McCain continued to serve Arizona for a decade after losing out on the presidency. For much of that time, he focused on the issues closest to him – defense and foreign policy.

In 2014, he took on a new mission: dealing with the national scandal of veterans dying while waiting for treatment at the VA hospitals.

Most recently, McCain was in the headlines for clashing with Pres. Donald Trump. His most notable action: a thumbs-down vote of a bill dubbed a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

He left Washington D.C. to recover from complications related to cancer treatment in Arizona at the end of 2017. But his condition never improved enough for him to return to the Senate and, in April, he had surgery for diverticulitis.

Outside of politics, McCain is known for his close relationship with his family, his passion for Arizona sports, and his love of Arizona’s natural beauty, especially the land around his ranch near Cottonwood.

McCain is survived by his 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain; his wife, Cindy McCain; and seven children from his two marriages, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy, Bridget, Doug, Andy and Sidney.

Elizabeth Wiley contributed to this report.

Interactive timeline of Sen. John McCain's life

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