Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, the breakout reality-show star from VH1’s Mob Wives who got her own spinoff, died early Thursday morning after battling throat, lung and brain cancer. She was 55 years old. According to her friend Vinnie Medugno, Big Ang — whose distinctive laugh was a mainstay on The Soup — passed away at 3:01 a.m., “surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family, and the closest friends.” The statement continues:
“YOU, (her fans) were some of the most special people in the world, and she loved you immensely. Thank you for your love, prayers, and unconditional support of Angela right to the very end. She truly went out richer than any monetary value could ever amount to. The family asks for privacy and peace during this most difficult time. In typical Big Ang fashion, we knew she would say ‘Love you my babies!’ This page will remain open as a celebration of who she was and will always be. It has been my esteemed privilege and honor to represent her in the highest regard via social media.” (Via People.com)
In March 2015, Big Ang (who isn’t actually a mob wife; she was included on the show because of her uncle, Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi, a member of New York’s Genovese crime family) was diagnosed with throat cancer, which spread to her brain and lung. She is survived by her two children, Raquel and Anthony Donfrio, and six grandchildren.