Andy Bellomo took baseball seriously. His coach said the 14-year-old was his own worst critic and constantly demanded excellence.
Andy managed to do that while still having fun, said Brad Brazell, head coach of freshman baseball at Phoenix's Barry Goldwater High School.
"He was just a quirky individual," Brazell said. "He (was) just one of those kids who loved
It was that love of life that friends and family said they will remember about Andy, who was injured Saturday in a Phoenix grease fire.
The accident left Andy with severe smoke inhalation and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, fire officials said.
Andy was pronounced dead Monday at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital, authorities said. Several of his organs were donated, his friends said.
Andy was a freshman baseball and football player at Goldwater High School who drummed in his own band and loved to write, friends said Tuesday.
"He wanted to be a pro baseball player, but if he didn't, he would join the Marines or become a drummer," said Marcus Holt, one of Andy's best friends.
Andy's aunt, Victoria Bellomo, said his death was "absolutely horrific."
"In my mind, I can't imagine how this happened except that he was meant to be with God," she said.
"It's such a stupid tragedy, I just can't get over what happened."
The fire was caused by a pot of cooking oil, said Capt. Jeff Peabody of the Phoenix Fire Department.
Andy had been up late at a friend's house planning to cook french fries, but the unattended oil caught fire and set the entire kitchen ablaze, officials said.
The mother at the house tried to evacuate the three boys in the house, but Andy got lost in the smoke and firefighters found him without a pulse in the bedroom, officials said.
Andy was an intelligent teenager who was not afraid to express his affection for loved ones, Victoria Bellomo said.
"He just hugged and loved you," she said.
"(He was) just like an angel. This just breaks my heart."
Brazell said Andy, who was a pitcher, was proud of his school and had wanted to play baseball there since seventh grade, when Andy first met Brazell at baseball camp.
"He was just one of those unique personalities that every high-school kid wants to be," Brazell said. "He was certainly one that didn't worry about fitting in; he was just being himself."
On Thursday, baseball players from Goldwater High will hold a baseball game and barbecue at 5 p.m. at the varsity baseball field, with donations accepted to a memorial fund in Andy's honor.
On Tuesday evening, several hundred people attended a candlelight vigil to remember Andy's life.
They gathered in the area of 19th Avenue and Union Hills Drive, the site of the house that burned.
Shawn Lord had been one of Andy's best friends, along with Marcus, before a falling out in December. Shawn had known Andy for about four years since playing with him at a talent show in school.
While neither had seen each other very often since their fight, Shawn was confident that the two would get back to normal, especially after the two apologized to each other and began to reconcile their conflict.
But Andy died soon after the two had begun to repair their friendship. “I just felt destroyed,” said Shawn, 15.
“He knows I'm sorry.”
Shawn said Andy was an enormous influence on him. Musically, Shawn said Andy helped him to progress as a guitarist, Shawn said.
Andy was very gifted at writing poetry, and he composed the lyrics for the band's music, Shawn said.
Andy's close friends and family are left with fond memories of the times they spent with him. Shawn said one of his best memories with Andy was a time the two of them spent together on the roof of a house discussing what the “beyond” after death.
Marcus, 15, said he recalls singing karaoke with Andy and going to the park to practice baseball.
Before Andy's death, Marcus visited him in the hospital to try to cheer him up with jokes and play music for Andy, who was unconscious at the time.
Marcus said he took some comfort in knowing that Andy's transplanted organs could save lives.
"It makes me feel a little bit better because he just became a hero for . . . other families," Marcus said.
Now if I'd only known him better than I actually did. Seems like he was a really cool person to be around.