Michael Charles Giardino, who died during Sunday's Redondo Beach Triathlon, was following his passion that morning, his son told Patch on Monday.
Giardino, 48, of San Pedro, collapsed on the beach next to the Redondo Beach Pier after stumbling out of the water upon finishing the swimming leg of the race. Paramedics performed CPR and transported him to Little Company of Mary Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
It's not clear exactly how he died.
"My father died a glorious death because he was doing what he loved," Giardino's son, Andrew Giardino, said. "He was one of the best people you've ever met on this planet."
Police have not released Michael's name to the news media; however, his family gave Patch permission to publish his name.
At 6-feet-4-inches and about 235 pounds, Michael was an imposing figure, yet he had a friendly aura, said Andrew.
"He's the type of person where when he walked into a room, you just felt his presence," Andrew said. "You felt like you could just go and hug him, and he would talk to anyone."
This was Michael's second triathlon, but he was no stranger to physical activity, his son said. "He does 5Ks, he does 10Ks—he does those all the time."
Online records indicate that Michael recently participated in this year's Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10K/5K Run/Walk in February and the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K in April.
Michael kept a detailed record of his race preparations.
"We're all just like looking at the calendar because last Wednesday, he did a swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5-mile run in the same day," Andrew said.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., Michael moved at a young age with his family to San Pedro.
"His roots are in San Pedro," Andrew said. "He went to Mary Star High School (and) played football at Mary Star."
Michael played football in college until he was injured. Three years ago, his own father died.
"It really flipped the switch," Andrew recalled. "It made my dad go into this 'health mode' and ever since then, he's been training for life … He lived every single day of his life up to (Sunday) to the fullest."
Michael is survived by his wife, his son and his daughter.