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The cancer ravaged Martin J. Walsh when he was a husky 7-year-old with bold red hair that would all fall out. They held a special First Communion for him on Christmas Day because doctors didn’t think he’d live until spring. Years later an errant bullet hit Walsh one night on Dorchester Avenue, grazing his left leg when he was 22 and had developed a taste for alcohol. In five years, he would hit bottom as an alcoholic and embrace sobriety, a turning point that gave his life focus.
Today Walsh is a leading candidate for mayor of Boston as the contest enters the frenzied, post-Labor Day sprint to the preliminary election Sept. 24. He remains calm amid the tumult of the race.