SANDY AYALA: The Sadness of
Ayala stayed close to his mother and three siblings. So
close, in fact, that after he married, he insisted that
he and his wife live with the family in the apartment
where he was raised on East 113th Street, in East
After he and his wife, Leyda Ayala, separated, he
often took his daughter Samantha to the gym where he
worked part-time as a personal trainer, and during the
summer he would take her and her new half siblings to
Coney Island and Orchard Beach.
On Sept. 11, he was working overtime as a banquet
arranger at Windows on the World --after his usual
all-night shift-- to save money for a gift for Samantha's
But that dedication was mixed with anxiety. "He was
always afraid he would die young and never live to see
his daughter grow up," Mrs. Ayala said. "He used to say
he wouldn't live past 36." There was no real reason for
it, since he had been weight-training all his life and
was in superb physical condition, she added.
He died a month after his 36th birthday.