On March 9, 1988, a very special child was born to the Rovero family. Initially, we had planned to name him Daniel, but as his birth grew closer, his father decided that he wanted him to carry on the family name, so he became Joseph John Rovero, III. From the start, we all called him “Joey”, and this name suited him perfectly.
Joey was a very happy baby, toddler and youngster who took an immediate liking to sports of all kinds.
Over the years he played baseball, basketball Lacrosse and earned a brown belt in Tang Su Do by the time he was entering third grade. It was our joy to be those proud parents on the sidelines, cheering Joey and his teams along in every sport he participated in. He started playing soccer when he was 4 years old and spent the last three years as a member of the San Ramon Force, an elite traveling team that took us to tournaments throughout the state and even into Arizona. By 8th grade, we finally gave into his demandsthat he trade soccer in for football, which became his passion throughout high school. He loved being a Cal High “Grizzly” and he helped resurrect a team that came alive those four years under a new coaching staff.
When it came time to consider what college he would go to, we took multiple road trips and visited several on Joey’s top 10 list. From the moment he set foot on Arizona State University’s campus it seemed his decision was made. He was very excited when he received an early acceptance to attend ASU and was on target to graduate in May 2010. We proudly sent our son off to college, happy that we could help support this next important chapter of his life and that he could have what we expected would be a fulfilling college experience.
On Friday, December 18th, 2009, our wonderful son’s life came to a tragic, unexpected end as a result of alcohol, Xanax and Oxycodone that he mixed while celebrating a graduation and birthday part for a couple of his friends. While none of the individual levels of these substances was lethal, each of them are central nervous system depressants and collectively, they shut down his breathing. Joey went to sleep and never woke up. According to the Coroner’s report we received almost 5 months later, he died from a combination an equivalent of one pill of Xanax, 1 1/2 pills of 30mg strength Oxycodone and his alcohol levels weren’t alarmingly high. One pill or drink meant the difference between life or death for him.
It’s still hard for us to believe and accept that Joey’s no longer with us even through it’s been almost five years ago. All we have left are our wonderful memories and the pictures and videos we took of him as he grew up. We are so thankful for those but long for so much more time with him.
It’s hard not to think about what could and should have been—college graduation, a career, marriage, grandchildren and a son to be there for us when my husband and I grow old and need an advocate. Someone for his brother to share family stories with and to enjoy life with as adults. Joey had such a bright future ahead of him. What a shame that his life ended before he was able to experience the full spectrum of what this world had to offer him.
Joey’s story is one that serves as a perfect example of how this can happen even to great kids who come from caring, nurturing families. Joey was surrounded by his family’s love and support from the day he was born. He was smart and funny, and had a magnetic personality that attracted an amazing variety of friends. With everything seemingly going well in his life, it’sreally hard to accept what happened to him. In just five more months he would have graduated and moved on to the next chapter of his life. His death was SO avoidable and had he known what we now know to be true about how dangerous these prescribed drugs can be, I believe he would still be with us.
We miss Joey more than I can adequately express. He was such an important member of our family. The emptiness he’s left in all of our lives is something I’m sure will never go away. However, we trust that Joseph John Rovero, III is in a better place now and we pray that we will be reunited with him someday. To think otherwise is just too painful to consider.
Joey is the inspiration behind our creation of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse (NCAPDA). We sincerely hope that the awareness we generate about the dangers of prescription drug abuse will save other families and friends from the devastating loss we have experienced. At least then, something positive will have come from the death of our precious son. Our organization’s slogan is “Spread the Word…One Pill Can Kill”. It happened to our Joey and it can happen to anyone with the wrong combination of substances, legel or illegal. Please do your part to help educate your community.
April Rovero (Joey’s Mom)