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V.J. Lovero, 44; Photographer for Angels, Ducks, Sports Illustrated

From a Times Staff Writer

V.J. Lovero, a photographer for the Angels, Mighty Ducks and Sports Illustrated who chronicled the Angels’ run to the 2002 World Series title after having been diagnosed with cancer, has died. He was 44.

Lovero died of complications of pneumonia Monday morning at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, four years after he had been told by doctors that he had six months to live.

“V.J. had a great love for baseball and photography, but that paled in comparison to his love for his family and friends,” photographer Darell Miho of Temple City wrote on a website message board.

Lovero’s ability to capture rare moments in a photograph was well known. He earned the cover of Sports Illustrated 39 times, and had his own insert set in Upper Deck’s baseball card collection of 1996.

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In late 1999, Lovero had a grand mal seizure in a grocery store, and was diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time, doctors gave him six months to live and suggested that Lovero should forget treatment and try to enjoy the days he had left.

Lovero, however, had a different idea. He took an aggressive approach to his cancer treatment, eventually returning to work and fulfilling a dream by shooting the Angels’ championship season in 2002.

“Those of us with cancer don’t just stop our lives,” Lovero told Sports Illustrated in the March 2001 issue.

“It’s important to be around what inspires us, whether it’s work, or family or friends. I’m blessed to have all three.”

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Lovero worked as a photographer for the Angels for more than 20 years and was the Mighty Ducks’ official photographer since the club’s inception in 1993. He had worked for Upper Deck and Sports Illustrated since the 1980s.

Lovero got into photography during his freshman year at Santa Ana Valley High School. He attended Orange Coast College and Cal State Fullerton.

In 1982, Lovero shot photographs of former Angel Rod Carew for a public relations firm, and soon after began working as a freelance photographer for the Angels.

In 1984, Lovero joined the Angels’ staff full time, and the next year received his first assignment for Sports Illustrated.

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He also worked as a freelance photographer for the Times’ Orange County edition, primarily shooting sporting events.

In the 1990s, Lovero formed a company that handles photography requirements for the Angels and Ducks.

Lovero is survived by his wife, Trish; and two sons, John, 16, and Jay, 13.

Funeral services are pending.

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