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Georgia MMA Trainer John Grantham Passes Away!

“Big” John Grantham has been a member of the MMA scene in Georgia for at least 10 years. He’s been known as a great

Grantham working with buddy Forrest Griffin

Grantham working with buddy Forrest Griffin

friend to many, a terrific trainer, one of Forrest Griffin’s best friends and cornermen, an original partner in a gym with Adam and Rory Singer and so much more. Most recently, Grantham has been a trainer at Full Throttle Fitness in Gainesville, GA.

For anyone that read Forrest Griffin’s NY Times top selling book “Got Fight”, you would have seen how many parts of the book were written by Grantham and able to see his pure humor.

35648_1488385497534_1470864772_31271190_3347094_nUnfortunately for all that knew him, Grantham was found dead in his apartment Saturday afternoon.

As of this point in time,  not many more details are available surrounding the death of “Big” John. As they become available, we at will do our best to bring them to you.

As soon as funeral arrangements are made, that info will be passed along as well.

Please post your comments below in memory of “Big” John!

June 22 Update:
To read about the funeral arrangements, please click here
To donate to his son’s college fund, please click here

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84 Responses to “Georgia MMA Trainer John Grantham Passes Away!”

  1. Melissa says:

    John will be greatly missed – his humor and caring nature made him worth his weight in gold…Rest in peace and thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. – Melissa, GT ’99

  2. Anthony Phillips says:

    Rest in Peace Big John aka COACH, I’ll never forget what you taught me brotha…..May God rest your soul and may peace come upon your family and friends so that we all can get through this hard time. God just needed a bigger angel to be with him 😉 R.I.P. Coach, you’ll forever be missed….

  3. Dylan Shope says:

    Rest In Peace Coach John Grantham AKA Big John. I miss you more and more everyday, and just wish this was all a dream. You meant everything to me, and were like a brother to me, things will never be the same down at the gym. From now on I’ll train and fight harder just for you, Rest in Peace Coach Grantham 🙂 My coach, my friend, my brother…

  4. NATE says:

    I played football with John at GT. I remember with him talking about his muay thai and BJJ training back in the mid 90’s. He was so happy when he earned his “shorts.” I remember when rick rufous broke his nose and he was so proud. We Went to UFC 10 together in Birmingham. John was a great coach and had a big heart. He will be missed.

  5. NATE says:

    I played football with John at GT. I remember him talking about his muay thai and BJJ training back in the mid 90’s. He was so happy when he earned his “shorts.” I remember when rick rufous broke his nose and he was so proud. We Went to UFC 10 together in Birmingham. John was a great coach and had a big heart. He will be missed.

  6. Scott Barrett says:

    John thank you for all you did for me. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my fighting career if is wasn’t for you and the way you pushed me. You took me under your wing with no questions asked I’m going to make you proud in this Bellator tournament. Its for you John

  7. Jeri Mansur says:

    John I will miss you! I have many fond memories in the basement of Haymore’s United Karate with Kelly Leo leading our workouts. I like to picture you and Erin Cantrell up there sparring together! I love you, you will be missed!!!

  8. Jesse says:

    I was a teammate of Grantham @ GT in the mid-to-late 90’s. One of the funniest guys you will ever meet and a great friend no matter the circurstances. Grantham, my heart goes out to you and your family and we know that GOD makes no mistakes. We know now that you are protecting the gates of HEAVEN with your extensice background in martial arts, football, and law enforcement. God Bless!

  9. Jesse says:

    I was a teammate of Grantham @ GT in the mid-to-late 90’s. One of the funniest guys you will ever meet and a great friend no matter the circurstances. Grantham, my heart goes out to you and your family and we know that GOD makes no mistakes. We know now that you are protecting the gates of HEAVEN with your extensive background in martial arts, football, and law enforcement. God Bless!

  10. Ron says:

    I will miss “BIG” John so much. He was an awesome mma coach with alot of heart and humor. I was proud to call him a close friend. But most of all I will always cherish the conversations about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible.

  11. John D'Angelo says:

    Last Wednesday we were all training @ Full Throttle and he said “Keep Your Hands Up D”…I was really looking forward to hearing that again from him this Weds. What a Great Coach and Person! John will be deeply missed.

  12. Gubba says:

    I was also a teammate of Grantham’s at GT and he was a good person, solid player and a great friend. John, you will be missed by your GT family and I’m sure your MMA family is saddened by your passing as well. You are much to young to leave us. When I think of all the good times we had I can not help but to smile and whenever I need a good laugh these days I just listen to the many voicemails that you have left me over the years that I have kept saved to my phone. There are some classic Grantham “quotes” on there and for those of you who knew Grantham… well you know what I’m talking about. John… you were certainly one of a kind and my life was that much better because I had the opportunity to have you in it. I am sad to see you go but I know that you are finally resting peacefully. I’ll have ‘hagen and do a twirl for you today my friend.

  13. Phillip says:

    John was an amazing teammate and an even better friend. I loved his intensity, his sense of humor and most of all his loyalty to his friends. I remember hanging out with John and Forrest in Gainesville a few years ago and feeling this amazing sense of safety b/c I knew I had two of the toughest guys alive by my side. You will be missed Big John! Grantham family, I’m so sorry for your loss and will keep you in my prayers. Phillip Rogers GT’99

  14. Ron says:

    I also played at GT with John. He was my good friend and I miss him.

  15. david says:

    i’m another teammate of john’s from GT and was also a training partner of his in MMA. we started training in muay thai together under kru billy malone back at world martial arts academy in lilburn. we earned our shorts together on the same day and i’ll never forget how excited we both were. i also remember how sore my arms would be after holding the thai pads for john. we shared a lot of time together both on and off the field and in training. he was one of the most unique people i have ever known and i will never forget him. he had just started to pursue a dream of his to become a college strength coach and i’m saddened that he won’t get to realize it. i’m just thankful that i was lucky enough to have him in my life, even though his time with all of us was far too short. we love you john.

  16. Jerry says:

    I too played with “Big John” at GT in the late 90’s. My heart is truly saddened to hear of the loss of a friend, former teammate, and truly one of the great people of society. We will miss you “Big John”!! Jerry Caldwell GT’99

  17. Mike says:

    Miss you big Guy. Leg still hurts many years after you kicked it!!! thanks for all you showed me and new ways to leg kick. Love ya

  18. Kathi and Joe Grantham says:

    I’m John’s mom. Our neighbor just told us about this site. Thanks to ALL the friends sharing about John! Ya’ll can’t imagine how much these memories of John are helping us right now. Some day John’s 5 year old son will know about all the true friends his dad had! What a blessing! Loving friends, their prayers and our Savior, Jesus Christ, are giving us the strength each moment.

  19. Glen says:

    i’m going to miss you big john,you took me in and showed me a true art of mma.i will always remember you and will support scott moore,and i will continue to train just like you would want.”keep diggin”is what come to mind when i think of you.i will miss you and we will see you on the other side.THANKS COACH

  20. NATE part 2 says:

    I wanted to add to my note above as I was in a hurry earlier. I knew Jon as good or better than almost anyone as I lived with him for 4 years at GT. People were drawn to Jon because he was a fun person to be around, you never knew what he would say or do next. There are so many things that I could write here. I’m glad some of our GT football brethren have left messages here for Jonny. I have alot of respect for a guy who walks on to GT as an undersized defensive linemen and eventually earns a starting spot and a scholarship as Jon did. I was looking forward to seeing him compete in an upcoming grappling tournament. I swear I was driving today thinking about Johnny and didn’t know whether to start laughing or crying. Someone else told me that Jon was the most unique person they had ever met and it is true, Jon marched to the beat of his own drummer more so than anyone i have ever known. Recently, Jon was considering a career move to being a collegiate strength coach. I have no doubt that he would have excelled in that arena. I don’t know what I will miss most about Jon, but I considered him a brother and someone I could always call up and talk with about anything. I love you buddy and I will sincerely miss you.

  21. W. L. says:

    I knew John during his time with us at Hall County Sheriff’s Office. Everything people have said is true. He was funny, unique, and had the biggest heart. And he could make a person feel safe, just by standing near. I truly liked John and will miss him. May God bless his parents and son.

  22. Jackie Gillespie Trammell says:

    My heart goes out to the Grantham family. I went to high school with John and he was such a great friend and great guy! You are all in my prayers. My heart is broken.

  23. Amanda M says:

    I knew John during his time with Hall County SO, as well. I was a rookie dispatcher while he was a rookie on patrol. We laughed about everything and encouraged each other. John was an absolute sweetheart and will truly be missed. He was scared of cows, so I’ll probably think about him and laugh for years when I see one. Cheers, John- you made a huge impression in a small amount of time.

  24. Heather says:

    Little Brother, you will be sorely missed…big heart, black toe nails and all. Crackers, Wendy’s chili, underwear, sweating bullets, 10-13 reports, working your first traffic accident “by yourself”, all the “man, I’m hungry!”‘s, our first 10-16 call we responded to together…ALWAYS C-Watch!

  25. Mike S. says:

    I too had the pleasure of knowing John for my 4 four years at GT. The 4 weeks we lived together in the summer of 1998 were some of the most hilarious times of my life. He was the best. He was tough, he was genuine, he was loyal, he was honest, and he was the biggest teddy bear you’d ever met. I’m thankful that I knew him and I know his memories will live on forever. We love you John. You’ll never be forgotten. Rest peacefully my brother.
    -Mike Sheridan

  26. Craig says:

    I lived with john for 4 years at Georgia Tech and also lived with him for a short time span after college. John walked on to GT an through determination and hard work earned a scholarship. He eventually earned a starting role and as he liked to refer to it a “place at the the table” in reference to a qoute from Latimer in the mid nineties movie the Program. John was also an outstanding student while at Georgia Tech frequently being named to the deans list. One of his proffesors reached out to me with with this statement “I am deeply, deeply saddened to learn of John’s passing. He was a bright, witty, and 100% genuine young man, and was one of my favorite Georgia Tech students. I cannot believe he is no longer with us. Thank you for letting me know. I will pass along the word to the INTA community…”
    Some of the happiest times of my life include times spent in the company of John Grantham. He was a great friend to me and many others. I hope that I was half as a good friend to him. I miss you buddy and cant believe you are gone…it was far too soon. I will see you again one day.

  27. Misty says:

    Big John was very special to our family. He was a hero to our kids and a good friend to us all. His giving heart was bigger than he was! He had a way of making everyone feel safe. The first time I met John in my UGA attire, which he wasn’t fond of, he told me he would keep my husband safe while they were on patrol. I knew if he was around John, he would be safe — brotherhood as John would say. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all of the C-watch family.

  28. Jesse Wable says:

    I met you when i was a sophmore in high school. You are the person who first got me started in Mixed Martial Arts. I had always dreamed of getting in the cage or the ring and fighting. I never thought it would actually happen though. But thanks to you, that dream came true. And it changed my entire life. I am so thankful to have met you. You weren’t just my coach, you were my friend, my brother. I have so many memories that keep running through my head. Like all the times we would go out to eat after training, or chilling in treepark when u used to live there watching old pride dvd’s. All the funny stuff that you would say in school that would make all the kids crack up. There was never a dull moment when i was with you. You were HILLARIOUS. You were always cracking everyone at the gym up. I am really going to miss laughing so much. I don’t think training will ever be the same without you. Thank you for being my coach, and most importantly, my friend. I love you coach. And i can’t wait to see you again soon.

  29. Fincher says:

    Some called him American Anthem Grantham, I called him friend.
    We played high school ball together. He will be missed. We will
    see him in Valhalla. RIP old friend. I am passing the rock to you.

  30. Crystal C says:

    Awh, I’m gonna miss you big guy. You were truly an amazing man. All of your stories, “quotes”. I’ll never forget you, your laugh, or your smile. Everything from your black toe nails, to your giant heart of gold. My prayers go out to your family, especially your little boy… You’ve had an impact on many lives, and everyone is eternal greatful for you- I know I am. I’m gonna miss you, but I know i’ll see you soon man. Love you Coach.

  31. Becky Gillespie says:

    Kathi Joe and Family – It is with such a heavy heart that I tell you we are all so so very sorry for the loss of your beloved son. Please know that you and your family are loved so very much and are in the thoughts and prayers of many. God bless and keep you in the days to come.

  32. Mike Langley says:

    Big John! What a great man! I had the pleasure of meeting him one Wednesday night outside of our youth service in Dacula. John worked for Gwinnett Co. Police. Once he realized I was a Tech guy, he opened up more to me. He was very well thought of by those around him. Prayers are lifted for the family and friends of this wonderful young man!

  33. Bryan Lance says:

    We spent many hours together at Parole. We served many warrants together. John always wanted to be the first in the door. He was always in the fight and would never turn his back on a friend. The world is less ONE GOOD MAN. He will be missed terribly. Bryan , Robert , Dale and Terry. Your Parole family.

  34. Doug Houston says:

    I was one of Jon’s teachers when he was in high school. He was a truly exceptional young man, bright and witty and studious and determined and so many more adjectives that sound hollow at such a time as this. He was an absolute wonder! The world will not be the same without him, nor will any of us who have had the pleasure of knowing him. Rest in Peace, my son… you are greatly admired and respected, and will be deeply missed…

  35. Brett Dillin says:

    I worked with “JG” at FBHS. He truely had an impact on everyone that worked there and I consider him a true friend. John will definitely go down in history as one of the greatest story teller of all time! if you have every heard ANY of his stories you know exactly what I am talking about1 John, I’m glad i got to see ya again a couple of weeks ago and cant wait to see ya again big guy!

  36. Ryan says:

    You were a brother and freind to me and too many a HERO. these words can’t come close to say what needs to be said. But John, I will always respect you and your name. I hate that it ended this wayand these litttle words can’t come close to say what needs to be said. I will miss your friendship dearly (45 in a 45) ;} also Mason sends his love and wants you to look over his cat’s while you are up their. I just hope heaven can afford to feed you

    Love and Respect forever John…………………………………. forever………………………………..

  37. Jan Flanagan says:

    I worked with John as his secretary when he was with Parole and he will be missed,.

    The office was like a family, most of the time,. So when John found out he was going to be a Daddy, he was so pumped up.

    He had asked how long will this be for and I said 18 to 23 years depending if he wants to go to Tech. And in John’s fashion he said

    “OH MAN”

    But when Little Jake came into Johns life, John became a great Daddy. He loved Jake. He started Jakes training before the boy could walk, just about.

    John would bring Jake to the office and his smiling face just shinned when he got eye to eye with Jake.

    Then we got to know Forrest and he was telling us some of the stories about him and John. You could tell John and Forrest were fast friends for life, and had each others back.

    Gods Blessings and Grace for now and forever

    Go in peace my friend.

    Love Jan

    John will be missed by me.

  38. Kristi says:


    You were my little big brother. I’m sad to say I have lost two brothers in my life…my biological brother, whose birthday would have been today, and you. I will never forget your humor, your intelligence and our talks. You are definitely one of a kind and I can never express how proud and honored I was to be considered your friend. My big, ole bear, you no longer have to apologize for not being out here with us…you are backing us up in heaven. If heaven can’t afford to feed you, you are still always welcomed to my leftovers. 🙂 When you see Richie, give him a big ole hug for me! He would really love you, too, and would be proud to know I considered you part of our family.

    Rest in peace, my brother. I will love and cherish our times together forever.

  39. doblas says:

    Kathi – I just put an article on this site re John’s funeral on Friday. If you have more info, please email it to me at so I can update it so all can have the information to attend.

    I’m sorry about the passing of John. I met him many times and just had a 2 hour conversation with him on the phone about a month ago. He was a really terrific guy and will be missed by all in the MMA community.

  40. Frank Bishop says:

    When I met up with Adam on Saturday night and he told me, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve known John since he and Scott Hicks met up with Adam and Rory over at the 1st HardCore Gym/Plachalarm MT. John and I shared a bed in Vegas when we went out for Forrest’s fight when he won the show. We’re both near 300 lbs, 6’4″, sharing a small bed! For some reason, John was one of the few people who made me feel in a better mood, safe, etc. I loved his enthusiasm and attitude. I loved when I knew I’d be going somewhere where Big John would be.

    To John’s family and son: I’m so sorry for your loss. John made thousands of people happy.

  41. Katie says:

    My prayers are with the Grantham family.

  42. Westy says:

    I had the blessing and good fortune of knowing Grantham from our days at GT. I was always amazed at how easily he could meet total strangers and make instant friends. He was a warm, open, and engaging friend that always had a ready smile and a big laugh. Every time you were with Grantham you’d leave with a story (or three) and good memories. You never forgot about your times with him. He was a bright, intelligent, and hard working man. When he was interested in something he’d learn it backwards and forwards, staying up all night studying, watching First Blood, and sharing a ‘hagen. I will miss him tremendously but I will never forget him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his son, of whom he was so proud.

  43. Bill M says:

    Big Johns family so sorry to hear about my friend John.I was his insurance agent for 7 or 8 years and we got to be good buddies.

    When I found out years ago he played football at Tech,being the Tech fan I am ,I would always get a good story out of my buddy.

    John,I pray for your family ,your little boy.Truly breaks my heart but God has a plan for you and your family, so all will be good.
    I will miss you big man………….

  44. Chris says:

    I had the opportunity to meet John in college at Georgia Tech where we were teammates. When I think back to the innocent fun that makes college a great experience for me, it’s guys like John that immedately come to mind. He was a lovable guy, respectful, and with the biggest heart. He believed in his friends and himself and would give the shirt off his back to help others. I have a son named Jake and it rips me up to know that his 5 year old son will be without his dad. My heart goes out to his son, his family, and all of his friends. PSALM 23:1-6

    God bless,
    Chris Haney

  45. cole miller says:

    RIP big john. You are missed

  46. Kellie says:

    John was one-of-a-kind and will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Grantham family.

  47. BEN says:

    John, this aint gonna be easy. I’m gonna pull myself together just long enough to get through this. From what it looks like everyone you touched feels the same way about you. Expressions of LOYALTY and BROTHERHOOD have been the consistent message. When you and I talked on the phone or spent time together it felt like it was us against the world. I will miss your laughter, your voice mails, and all the absolutely slap stick funny things that we did. You were hands down the most entertaining person that ever stepped into my patrol car. I will miss you dearly. Every man dies…..but not every man lives. John, you most certainly painted outside lines. I love you brother. The ache in my heart will last long for Jake, and the rest of your family. See you on the other side. You are still my hero.

  48. Len says:

    Big John you are missed by so many, you were so good to my son in supporting him and encouraging him. Your life touched so many. Our heart felt sympathy goes out to your family and that wonderful little boy.

  49. Dustin says:

    I lived with John on and off for 8 years. He was my best friend for 27 years. The reality of his death has yet to sink in. I loved him like a brother and will miss him terribly. We truly lost a legend but I know that he will never be forgotten. He has left an undeniable legacy that many will speak of for years to come. He left a piece of him behind in his beautiful son Jake. I find solace in the fact that Jake is truly his father’s son. I love you Mr. and Mrs. Grantham and I will continue to be that second son. I love you John and like the Ozzy Osbourne song that you made me listen to so many times says, I’ll see you on the other side.

  50. Tim says:

    Kathi and Joe, as you can see by these post, your son touched so many lives in such a short time. He helped my son thru a tuff time in his life, and my son has now served a successful 4 year tour in the Marines, having fought twice on the front lines in Iraq.
    It was John’s ability to get people to believe in themselves, that would lead those people to accomplish things, otherwise, they never would have tried.
    John will be missed by all, but, never forgotten. My family prays for you and your family and Jake. May God be with you today, tomorrow, and the rest of the days.

  51. Scott S. (Shug) says:

    John. This is truly one of the hardest things for me to deal with. I first met you years back when you were with Parole. We met in that bank. I was in my Hall County uniform and you were a speaking so fondly of getting the “privilege” to go to New Orleans for the hurricane. The memory still makes me laugh. Then you started working for the Sheriff’s Office and we became great friends and brothers. To me you weren’t just a law enforcement brother, you were my real brother. You became a trainer to me and my son and a member of my family. We laughed and cried together over the time I was lucky enough to have you in my life. You are one of the few people who make such a deep impact on all those around you. John, when you called me last week I didn’t call you back and I’d give anything to get that opportunity back. I’m kicking myself daily for it. I know if you were here you would kick me for feeling this way and you wouldn’t even let me use a pad. My life is better for having known you and sadder that you’re gone. I love you brother.

  52. Merrix W says:

    I to was a teammate of John and Fellow D Tackle. Even When I first met him as a freshman in college I could see his intesity and passion to be better. He went hard everyday and never complained. He was just excited about life. He was a fun guy to be around and get a laugh out of you all the time. John may you rest in peace man Merrix Watson GT’02

  53. NATE says:

    so where are the other 51 responses? John’s family was hoping to print all these out for Jake. Please bring them back

  54. Ken Litscher says:

    Nate – I think the first 50 responses are here: Joe and Kathi should be able to print them from that page.

  55. j palmer says:

    dude john man the times we had in class at flowery branch when you were a teacher and the time at tree park in the hot tub were of the chain because of you my life changed for the better i got into sports got right with god and the people in my life you always looked out for me like a dad you made sure i was always in the right state of mind and on track with school and sports. with out you i truly dont know at this point in my life if i would still be alive. you showed me there were better things in life and i thank you for that big daddy and ill miss you more and more every day but the thing that keeps me going is the fact that i know your looking over me know. thanks for being in my life “dad”.

  56. Larry Brooks says:

    John was a dear friend, fellow police officer, warrior, my student in Jiu Jitsu and I am going to miss him dearly. I have had a very tough time getting over this, probably never will, its just hard to accept. I was getting him ready for the upcoming Naga tournament in Georgia along with his students, the super heavy weight advanced division would have had a tough time eliminating this guy. John was special to me and I am going to miss seeing and working out with him more than anyone can imagine. I was talking to him one night and he told me that he needed some street experience, I asked him if he wanted to go outside and get some, he hesitated and said ok are you going to come watch? John was hilarious and very creative, he learned Jiu Jitsu like a sponge and always had room for more. The first time I did a clinic with John he looked like a child being handed delicious candy, what a special mind he had, and a zest for martial arts. If John is going to be a guardian angel, god please assign him to me ! love you John, fairwell my friend.

    Larry Brooks

  57. B.Lee says:

    I was an 18 year old freshman on the ’98 ACC Championship Team with John at GT. All of the young guys looked up to John and enjoyed being around him. He was one of the first upper classmen to reach out to me and make me feel like a part of the team. He was also one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever met in my life. It’s great to see how many lives he’s been able to touch. He will be missed.

  58. Scott W. says:

    I had the privilege of knowing John as a teammate and friend. As many have said, he never met a stranger and was a fried to all. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. All of the GT football family are better people for knowing and having John in our lives. He will truely be missed. God bless you John and may Heaven be a better place with you there. Scott Wilkins GT ’98.

  59. Bo Hairston says:

    John my brother you will be really missed. We first meet 1996 at North Georgia College when Georgia Tech was up for entire summer due to Olympics begin hosted on Georgia Tech campus. We became good friends from that point on. Everytime we would see each other we would always laugh and joke about the old times. Our friend ship really grew after college. You were working for Parole and I was working for probation. We always shared the same people. That big smile will always be missed my brother. May god bless your family and keep them strong. Go Jackets for Life.

  60. Misty Rega says:

    I was John’s neighbor (and friend) for a little over 2 yrs from 2007 through 2009. John was truly larger than life. He was generally the center of attention, always quick to make everyone laugh. I had the privilege of getting to go out w/him and some of his buddies from high school one night, it was awesome to see how he had stayed friend with the same group of guys. They had some hilarious stories.
    I also got to meet Jake a few times, and rarely have I ever seen a little boy who wanted to be so much like his dad. Jake had more (plastic) karate equipment/toys and boxing equipment/toys than any little boy I’ve ever seen.
    You will be so missed, John.

  61. Troy says:

    John and I go back to high school. We both trained together in high school. Even at that time John had a good 60+ pounds on me. I would always dread having to hold the kicking pad for John because every time he would kick it, he would lift me off the ground. I also remember having to spar against him and always accidently popping him in the groin with a kick because I had trouble overcoming his long reach. I would apologize, we would laugh about, and then continue. John always enjoyed training and gave everything he did 110% effort. After graduating from high school our lives started to split but we always tried to keep in touch periodically. Despite how our lives changed, John always had a good soul and would give the shirt off his back to help a friend. As I begin to reflect back, I break out in tears of sadness. But then I start to think of many of the good memories and I end up in tears of laughter before it is over with. John always had that effect on people. It always amazed me how people would meet him once and 5 plus years later they would ask me “Hey, how’s John doing”. I will always hear John’s voice echoing in my head saying “You know I love you like a brother”. John you will truly be missed and you touched more lives than you realized. I too love you like a brother.

  62. Lynn Russell Nash says:

    my ex-hubby was John’s high school coach and all of my kids ADORED him! (as did I) We should be seeing each other at reunions and not at funerals. Much love to the family and FOND memories of a BIG “OL SWEETHEART of a man. Love from Lynn, Mandy, Rooster aka Davis and Murphy Love to the family

  63. Daniel Ancheta says:

    John and I met when Rory, Adam and I started training with Scott Hicks in Muay Thai. We trained for and fought our first Muay Thai fights together. There are too many hilarious stories to recount, I seem to think of a different one every time I start thinking about him. The world lost a truly larger than life individual when john passed. His fun, outgoing attitude towards life always seemed to brighten up everything and everyone around him. It had been a few months since I was able to hang out with john, I don’t think I went more than a couple of minutes without laughing when I was around him. That always seemed to be the case. I will always miss him, he was like a brother to me. I won’t ever forget you John.

  64. NATE says:

    John- I been listening to all the old stuff from the training days: Ozzy, Metallica, the CRUE, etc… Brother I’m missing you right now. This is about the time we’d talk at night. I can’t believe you’re gone. Weighted pullups, cleans, pulls, squats below parallel (we just talked about this last week), sets of 100 on legs, OMER, kramer, mathis, lane, LT, OB, 215, your jeep with the “hard top”, “double P”, phipps, the amoco card, the shopping cart, red ranger, concert security, your favorite shirts, the twirl, dance of the flaming a$$hole, the list is endless……. the memories live on brother, rest easy, i will never forget you and I will “see you on the other side”
    Love you brother

  65. Charlie says:

    I had the honor of training jiu jitsu under Coach Grantham for the past 16 months. I never had any doubts that I was in good hands training with him; his bigger than life personality and warm smile will be missed by us all. My deepest condolences go out to his family. RIP Big John we love you and miss you.

  66. Brittney says:

    John- I remember when I first started with Parole you were right there to make me feel welcome. You were always there when I needed something and you could always make me laugh. I have some of the best memories of our days with the “gang” in Gainesville. Whether it was hanging out at the conference in Savannah or just everyday at the office- you were always there with a smile. Some of the best times were when you would bring little Jake into the office and we would sit around and play with him or I would just hold him and love on him. You were the best father and that little guy just adored you. I will always be thankful I had a chance to know you and call you my friend. We love you and will miss your sweet, smiling face always. My deepest sympathy goes out to your family and my prayers are with them and little Jake in the days to come. I know they will see that he remembers his father and he will know how much you loved him.

  67. C. Brooks says:

    I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting John, but it’s terrible to hear that I lost another GT brother. I could spend all day reading these great comments. John, seems like you’ll surely be missed. My prayers are for the Grantham Family to make it through this trying time.

  68. Brad Chambers says:

    I thought the first time I met John was in college at Georgia Tech, as we played football there (well John played football, I was just a “professional kickball player w/ a helmet & shoulder pads on” – John understands what that means!)-I would soon learn he and I crossed paths many times earlier in life. Like John, I too grew up & went to high school in a small Northeast Georgia town – in Toccoa, GA (Stephens County) which is the neighboring county to where John lived – Rabun County (Clayton, GA). Upon arriving in Atlanta, John quickly reached out to me to introduce himself – that was a talent of John’s – never met a stranger; he made the art of making friends so effortless.

    I have MANY great memories of John – from the Spring Break trips we took together w/ many of our Tech Teammates, & visits to West Georgia College for weekends at “The Mansion”, to several trips to his house in Tiger, GA (Rabun Co.) where one evening he somehow persuaded me to hold up a couch pillow to my chest as padding so he could show me how hard he could kick. . . After I caught my breath,& Kelli peeled me from the wall after a 5 foot flight, and checked to see if all my ribs were still intact – I realized just how stupid I was to think I could absorb a kick from “Big John” Grantham!

    John, you inspired & motivated many people during your 34 yrs down here -I bet you had no clue how much you meant to all of us – I hope you realize that now when you have a chance to read thru these comments from Heaven. I know Jake will be proud of his Father when he gets a chance to read thru these. You’re at PEACE now John – you completed your mission here on Earth & you did it your way! With much Love and Respect. . . .

  69. Rafael Santiago says:

    John, you are without a doubt one of a kind. When God made you, he broke the mold. I learned so many things from you. Some make me laugh. Remember the night you, Ben and I were talking outside our patrol cars over at Haselton on Lanier and you said the term “drunk dial”? I remember laughin for hours because I’d never heard that before then! Man what can I say except for I love you and I will miss you. When you get to Heaven, God and all the Angels running around are not gonna know what to do when they see you walking in!!

  70. Nate says:

    I guess I keep coming here because here, I feel like I can talk to you. You had a huge turn out for the wake and funeral. You probably know all this anyway. I spoke at length with Uncle Dan about you. I saw Prince Percy running around and having fun. Andy, Craig, Conrad, ROn, Alex, COndrad, Chambers, Jesse, Donte, Miller, Myers, WEsty, Phillip, Haney, and Frakes all made their way to Rabun. I probably missed a couple. All the fighters were there buddy. SOme great speeches were made. You left a lasting impression. Your OZZY song was played. We are still planning to bring the girls over to visit Jake this summer at your mom’s like we discussed on the phone a couple weeks ago. I wish I could give you a call buddy.
    Love you Brother

    To everyone that has left a note here, John’s family has read all of this and is overwhelmed at the response and impact John has made on so many people. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on John. He was one of a kind. He didn’t fit any molds, he made his own.

  71. Charlie Gastley says:

    My prayers are with you and your Family my brothers we had many good times around Gainesville and moving furniture together. You will be missed greatly . Gods Speed to you . A true Friend

  72. Kathy Jo says:

    John was an amazing person with a big heart and even bigger wisdom and insight. He will be missed by all of those who loved him. He left his imprint where ever he went. He was a postive force in a not so postive world.

  73. Craig says:

    Your wake and Funeral was quite the turnout. I never fully realized how much positive impact you had over so many lives. There was some very good memories shared of you. Your cop buddy talked of the night we met some of the members of Cinderella at my old place in Tennessee. We had some great times that spring and summer. We had lived together for four years prior to that but it was probaly that time in TN where I had you to myself and really got to know you best. I told you I loved you often but in between all the kidding and jokes I dont know if I ever told you why. Hopefully you knew that the more I kidded with someone the more I often respected, admired and loved that person. I have never been the best at expressing my true feelings. You were very smart so I am sure that was not lost on you. Nate gave a great talk at your funeral and I wanted to as well but I feared I wouldnt know what to say or be abke to say it. You would of not had that fear and that was one of the many things I loved about you. We also visited your gravesite and it is a nice quite place where you will find great peace. I will come as often as I can to talk to you and bring you some more fresh Cope. I should of made more of an effort to visit you while you were still here but I will do my best to make up for it now. I often took you and are friendship for granted and I am forever sorry for that.

    A common theme when people spoke of you was that you never met a stranger. I remember the first time we met in line for physicals before 95 camp and you embraced me as if we were friends for years. I am sure Nate would say the same. You helped make the transistion to a new school and team very easy for myself and Nate as well.

    Its hard for all of us to imagine a world without you but I will do my best as will many others to ensure that your memory lives on. Somehow though I feel they way you lived your life and the profound impact you had on everyone you met will sustain those memories. I look forward to seeing Jake grow and to hopefully having the opportunity to share with him the admiration and my memories of his Dad.

    Thanks for all the good times in 215, in the lockeroom, in the dining hall, at workouts,at class, at practices, at springbreak, playing spades, at movies, watching TV, get something to eat, playing pool volleyball and many other things I am certainly leaving out.

    Thanks for reaching out to me so often in the past couple of months.The past week or so I keep looking at my phone hoping to see Pa calling. I wish we would have had more time. I love you brother.

  74. Michael Smith says:

    I am truly sadeened by John’s passing. He was a great person with a great big heart. I taught John his very first matrial arts kick as I was training with Jerry Taylor (Shorin-Ryu Karate)in the early 90’s .After I left Jerry Mark Gerrells and I opened our Dojo together and John and Troy Andrews joined up with us there and we continued John’s martial arts training. I never had a clue that what I helped to teach John would mold so much of his future life. I have ran into John on several occassions over the past years and it was like we were never apart from each other. I will miss him dearly and I know that he made the world a better place for others. Rest in peace my Brother

  75. JK says:

    These are the first four words I think of when I think of John:


    He touched many people, most of which he didn’t even know.

  76. Kim (Jake's Mom) says:

    Thanks so much to everyone who has mentioned Jake. And a special thanks to Nate, Dustin, Craig, Alex, Kelly Leo, Jason, Forrest, Mack and the many others who John considered his very best friends for the roles you have played in Jake’s life. I want you all to know that I want you all to be a part of Jake’s life as he grows, as I know in my heart that John would want it that way. If I’ve forgotten to name someone, please know that all of John’s friends and family will always be friends and family of Jake’s. Jake is a little version of John and he will remind us of all of John’s wonderful qualities for years to come.

    To John, you are Jake’s superhero and he told me just this morning that you are in heaven playing football and fishing with Grandpa Kleglas. I will be sure to remind Jake everyday how much his Daddy loves him and how important he is to his Daddy. You are the first person Jake mentions in his prayers every night. Jake hopes you got the balloon that he released into the sky for you this morning. I want you to know that Jake has put your sharp-shooter award, GA Tech football helmet, and class ring in a very special place in his room. We love you and miss you.

  77. NATE says:


    Hey Brother

    I had a long, very real “dream” last night that we talked about everything. It felt good to hear your voice again. I woke up feeling like we had really spoken to each other. If that was you, I heard you.
    I talk to your mom quite a bit and she is doing well considering everything.

    Miss You Buddy


  78. NATE says:


    You are missed brother. Thinking of you alot lately.


  79. Kathi says:

    I still find comfort in coming here.. Thanks friends of our John!

  80. I only had the honor of meeting and chatting with John on a few occasions. He made a great impression on me though with his warm and friendly spirit. Though he was imposing in size you never felt that he was anything but a Gentle Warrior. He loved his life, he loved his friends, he loved martial arts and embodied the spirit of a true Samurai.

    God Bless You John!

    You fought well in this life and I’m fortunate and thankful for our brief encounters.

    Rest In Power.


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  82. Jesse Wable says:

    think about ya everyday coach… miss ya. can’t wait 2 see ya again..


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