The Broadway actor died on Sunday after battling coronavirus since March

By Dana Rose Falcone and Mary Green
July 09, 2020 09:00 AM

When Nick Cordero died from coronavirus complications on Sunday, the Broadway star, 41, left behind wife Amanda Kloots and their 12-month-old son Elvis.

“My husband was a very special man,” Kloots, 38, tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “He was everyone’s friend. We taught each other things, challenging each other to grow. We loved to sing and dance wherever we were. Just looking at him doing the simplest things would bring a smile to my face.”

For more Nick Cordero, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Kloots and Cordero met while working on the 2014 musical Bullets Over Broadway, for which he earned for a Tony Award nomination. At the time, Kloots was still married to her first husband, who she divorced when she was 32.

“You could tell very quickly that Nick and Amanda were falling for each other,” the couple’s friend Caissie Levy says. “He just adored her and was totally wowed by her. She felt the same about him.”

Amanda Kloots and Nick Cordero
Nick Cordero and Amanda Kloots

Kloots remembers, “I don’t think a day went by that he didn’t say to me, ‘I’m the luckiest.’ ”

When the musical wrapped, Kloots launched a fitness company and Cordero continued to star in shows including Waitress and A Bronx Tale. The two got engaged in March 2017 during a trip to Woodstock, New York ahead of Kloots' birthday when Cordero got down on one knee at a castle overlooking the Hudson Valley. They got married in September of that same year ("We didn't want to drag it on," Kloots recalled on her Instagram Story in May) and welcomed son Elvis in June 2019.

“He lived for that little boy,” Cordero’s Rock of Ages costar Constantine Maroulis tells PEOPLE. “He was born to be a parent. They both were.”

nick cordero with son elvis
Nick Cordero with son Elvis

RELATED VIDEO: Broadway Star Nick Cordero Dies at 41 After Over 90 Days in Hospital from Coronavirus Complications

Elvis celebrated his first birthday on June 10 (and started walking days later!) as his dad continued fighting for his life at Cedars-Sinai hospital in L.A after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. "He was so eager to teach Elvis everything, especially music,” Kloots says.

Kloots couldn’t visit Cordero for the first 79 days he spent in the hospital, so she would stand outside every day to pray for him and talk to him. For the next two months, Cordero experienced a series of unpredictable complications that led to septic shock, an amputated right leg and a temporary pacemaker.

nick cordero

On Sunday, the actor lost his battle with coronavirus.

“Words can’t describe how much I will miss him, his presence, his voice,” Kloots says. “I’m heartbroken.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.