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'Breaking Bad's' Touching Tribute to a Fallen Fan

Breaking Bad REP 29 - P 2013
Vince Gilligan, left, and Kevin Cordasco

Kevin Cordasco, who died of cancer at 16, gets an onscreen dedication after visits from the cast and creator Vince Gilligan.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

One of the questions left lingering for Breaking Bad fans following the series' final-season premiere Aug. 11 was the meaning of a tribute posted just before credits rolled: "Dedicated to our friend Kevin Cordasco."

Cordasco, a Breaking Bad fan from Calabasas, Calif., was just 16 when he died in the spring after a six-year battle with neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. His father, also named Kevin Cordasco, says his son found comfort in the show amid his painful surgeries and treatments.

"He and his friends watched it obsessively and ate pizza in his bedroom," Cordasco tells THR. "There was something about the Walter White character … the way he took control of his illness, and his life, that really resonated with Kevin." As his condition worsened, Kevin's godmother asked her friend Kim Byrd, an agent at Innovative Artists, if she could help Kevin meet the cast and creator Vince Gilligan.

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Byrd's colleague, Cher Van Amburg, is married to Sony TV marketing exec Chris Van Amburg, who reached out to star Bryan Cranston for help. "I literally got a call the next day from Bryan's assistant," says Byrd. Adds Cordasco, "Bryan and his wife sat with Kevin for hours at the hospital. And then Vince came to our house, along with some of the cast. They even invited Kevin to the writers room. He was beyond thrilled."

Gilligan asked Kevin and his family (including mother Melodie and 14-year-old brother Cade) to the Albuquerque set this year, but by then, Kevin was too ill to travel. He died March 11, just as Gilligan wrapped the final episodes.

"We are forever grateful and will be watching every Sunday with Kevin's friends and our popcorn," says Cordasco. "It's what our son would want."