By Jim Smith

WORCESTER (CBS) – UMass Medical School is opening its own food pantry and honoring the memory of a young man who died of an opioid overdose.

Max Baker was 23 years old when he died during a Christmas relapse.

The grief is still painful beyond words for Dr. Jim Baker. Almost two years ago he lost his beloved son. Battling addiction, Max had kicked the habit until a car accident led to surgery and pain medication.

maxbaker UMass Medical School Honors Man Who Died Of Opioid Overdose

Max Baker (WBZ-TV)

“He used what was given to him to relieve his pain, when that ran out he turned to the streets,” said Dr. Baker. “Three days after Christmas, the last thing he told me was ‘I love you dad’ and three days later he died.”

Max wanted to become a doctor like his dad, hoping to attend UMass Medical School where his father is on faculty.

baker UMass Medical School Honors Man Who Died Of Opioid Overdose

Dr. Jim Baker (WBZ-TV)

Now, Max’s name will live on at UMass, a food pantry dedicated in his memory, a place for hungry students low on money but needing nourishment.

“It is powerful, because he can’t be here in person, but he can be here in spirit,” Dr. Baker said.

Max Baker dreamed of walking the halls at the medical school and studying to be a doctor and now the resource center that bears his name will help other students pursue their own dreams.

This is also the story of a father keeping a promise made to his son to keep moving ahead.

“In fact we talked about it I said ‘Mackie if you die I don’t know if I can take another breath, take another step’ and he told me ‘dad you have to. The other kids need you, your patients need you, you gotta go on and make a difference.’”

Jim Smith

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