HALEDON — Alesandro LaRosa was the glue that held everything together.
After he and his family suffered a tragic blow in the fall of 2020, he performed in a new capacity. He became the head of the household.
“That’s why we were so proud of him,” says Yolanda LaRosa, his cousin.
Then the unthinkable happened on January 8th.
LaRosa, 31, died of COVID-19 complications and natural causes, including a history of breathing problems, his cousin said. He fathered a 9-year-old boy, Alesandro Jr., who lives in Franklin Lakes and attends High Mountain Road School.
He never fully recovered after contracting the virus in November 2020, his cousin said. He had fallen into a coma at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson and woke up two months later, she said. “We thought we would lose him,” she said, “but God gave us another year with him.”
LaRosa’s death comes less than two years since his parents, Tina and Corrado LaRosa, were died in a car accident at the intersection of Belmont Avenue and John Street after leaving an engagement party at The Brownstone in Paterson.
“We just ask people to pray for our families,” Franklin Lakes’ LaRosa said. “We’ve been through so much. But it’s up to God – if God wanted him, then it will happen.”
LaRosa, owner of La Neve’s Banquets on Belmont Avenue, described her cousin as “very humble” and “very likeable.”
Born in Paterson, Alesandro “Alex” LaRosa graduated from Manchester Regional Secondary School in 2008. He was a youth soccer coach and had worked as a poker dealer until he contracted the virus.
Daniel Ordini, an ironworker from Nutley, was his best friend from childhood.
“Everything with him was always unconditional love,” Ordini said. He added: “It’s a very big void and nothing can fill its shoes.”
Ordini said he and his friend met in grade school and it didn’t take long to ignite an old-fashioned ‘bromance’. They played Xbox almost every night, connected by the game system’s online network. They also went to music festivals and sporting events together.
Ordini recalled Electric Zoo’s concert at Randall’s Island Park in New York City during Labor Day weekend in 2018.
Noting the aftermath of the family’s first tragedy, Ordini said he was impressed — but not surprised — that his friend managed to take on such a huge responsibility. “He was the father figure,” he said. “He was the backbone of his family.”
Ordini said his friend was a big fan of the Las Vegas Raiders, who secured a place in the NFL playoffs the day after his death. The team, formerly of Oakland, California, hadn’t made it through the postseason in five years. The win was more miraculous because it happened in extra time – on a field goal in the last second.
“That was definitely Alex on the last ride of the Raiders game,” Ordini said.
LaRosa is survived by his brother, Carmen LaRosa, of Haledon, and his sister, Johanna LaRosa, of Paterson. He is also survived by his grandparents: Lorraine Gatto, from Sparta; and Iolanda and Sebastiano LaRosa, of Haledon.
The family accepts visitors on Mondays from 2-4pm and 7-9pm at DeLuccia-Lozito Funeral Home, at 265 Belmont Ave. in Haledon.
A funeral service will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Calvary Temple International, at 1111 Preakness Ave. in Wayne. Burial will follow at the Holy Sepulcher RC Cemetery & Mausoleum, at 52 Totowa Road in Totowa.
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, subscribe today or activate your digital account.
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