The youngest of three boys, [Michael Aguirre] was born in San Diego to a Spanish father and a mother whose own father was Mexican. Raised by his maternal grandparents during his infancy, Aguirre's parents divorced when he was 3 years old. When his mother married an appliance salesman, the entire family moved to El Centro.
Over the next decade, his mother's and stepfather's sales jobs took the family to Yuma, Indio, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Phoenix. When the family prepared for another move to Albuquerque in the mid-1960s, Aguirre, who by then was in high school in Phoenix, "decided that this was where I was jumping off the train." Staying behind in a trailer-"I was very popular in my senior class," he jokes-Aguirre paid the rent by mowing lawns and other odd jobs.
Three years later, when San Diego County Sheriff John Duffy was nominated to serve on President Reagan's Commission on Organized Crime, Aguirre helped publicize Duffy's association with purported underworld leaders at La Costa. After months of controversy, Duffy resigned from the commission-in the process, lambasting Aguirre for "regurgitating" old allegations and speculating that Aguirre intended to run against him in 1986, which did not happen.