Tim McGraw is known for being more than a Country Music superstar. His more than two dozen #1 song across country music have translated to other genres. More than chart-topping success, songs like “Humble and Kind” and “Live Like You Were Dying” sparked cultural movements embraced by millions, not simply country music fans, with earnest appeals to build a better world and become better people.

Tim McGraw and Hoda Kotb sat down on “Today” this morning, November 4, as part of an exclusive series from Princeton, NJ, to discuss a different kind of journey for the superstar.

There was no new single racing to the top, but there is a message that Tim McGraw is as passionate to convey as any of the love songs sang with his wife of 23 years, Faith Hill. In his new book, “Grit and Grace,” McGraw delves into his childhood, fatherhood, the struggles of growing up, the strength of his marriage, and the power of forgiveness like never before.

Much more than a rigorous routine

Tim McGraw has taken to book pages more than once in recent months.

Over the summer, he teamed with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer, Jon Meacham, in support of their collaboration for their “Songs of America” music and prose celebration of the songs rooted in the American story. Meacham only teased about needing the bigger tour bus.

The singer details what most would consider a ruthless on-the-road workout in “Grit and Grace,” but insists that the bus packed with weights, ropes, balls, huge tractor tires, and more killer gear.

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Tim and his crew design what they call their “gorilla yard” for fitness and a forum for open personal discussions as well as enhancing performances.

The transition to fitness started for Tim McGraw about 11 years ago, when Faith defined the choice as “the party or us,” before her husband. Further confirmation came from his daughter at him Christmas time, when the family was just set to enjoy a holiday film.

Before the feature, McGraw saw a bloated vision of himself in a movie trailer, across a 100-foot screen. “You gotta do something, Dad,” came the critique from the daughter. Tim called it a “gut-shot” of truth.

Walking became running for the father to Gracie, Maggie, and Audrey, ranging from 22 to 18, and now grown. McGraw declares that his aim is “not about weight, it's not about fat versus thin. It's about what feels good to you.” His tips in small nuggets promote “being there for yourself so you can be there for others.”

Tough times and Tug

Faithful fans of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are familiar with the humble beginnings of the stellar music couple, but for most of the general public, Tim McGraw’s struggles growing up in Start, Louisiana are a revelation.

Until Tim was 11, he thought his stepfather, Horace Smith, was his father. When he discovered the name Tug McGraw on his birth certificate during some closet rummaging, Tim confronted his mother, and the two talked on a long car drive about the romantic fling that turned to paternity. During a visit, the pitcher famous for his “You Gotta Believe!” tagline with the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, acknowledged the young Tim in a “good kid” kind of way, treating him to a special day at the ballpark.

Later, when Tim was 18, father and son came to a more man-to-man understanding of responsibility while the son was in college. When Tug McGraw was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Tim assisted in finding treatments and allowed his father to stay on the family property. Tug McGraw died in January of 2004, at 59, and the impact of the experience is poignantly reflected in “Live like You Were Dying,” released the same year.

Five years after the passing, Tim McGraw spread a handful of his father’s ashes over the pitcher’s mound of Citizens Bank Park, home for the Phillies.

Tim McGraw credits his father for the “grit in my DNA,” which gives him a sense of overcoming and never giving up, but his determined single mother, raising three children and working three jobs, provided daily inspiration and support. She imparted in her children “that we could out-dream our means,” Tim proudly asserted. That sense of self-worth overcame the nights of seeing his mother cry, wondering how bills would get paid.

In “Grit and Grace,” Tim recalls rigging the power to allow the stove and lights to keep running. Resourcefulness and resilience were family traits, too.

McGraw also reflects that giving grace to one’s self is necessary and important, since it is impossible to offer grace to anyone else without it. “We all need grace, especially in this world where there’s not enough grace,” relates the author.

The hard times are behind Tim McGraw now, but the heart and determination inborn in the singer come through boldly in bite-sized nuggets in “Grits and Grace.” Any goal in life comes one bite, one step, one choice at a time.

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