After the Cavaliers’ recent historic victory, people all over Northeast Ohio were celebrating the end of a 52-year championship drought with fireworks, car-honking, drinks and friends.

But Paola Giannini of Fairlawn celebrated a little differently.

“If my dad were here, we would’ve been in San Francisco [watching the game]. He would’ve cried like a baby,” Giannini said. “We would’ve been out there loud and proud.”

Giannini’s parents, Paul and Nancy, weren’t around to see the Cavs overcome a 3-1 deficit in the championship or the festivities that ensued afterward last week, so Giannini took the celebration to them.

As Giannini and her brother Anthony laid Cavs rally towels on their parents’ headstones at Rose Hill cemetery in Fairlawn the day after the game, they recalled their father’s fierce fandom.

Paul Giannini came to the United States from San Paolo di Civitate, Italy, when he was 19. American soldiers were stationed in front of his house after World War II and taught Paul how to play baseball. More than that, though, they introduced him to a world of sports.

Paul held season tickets for the Browns, Indians and, of course, the Cavs, for decades. He may not have seen the Cavs win a championship, but in his life, he was there when the Indians went to the World Series in 1995 and 1997, he followed the Italian soccer team across the United States during the World Cup in 1994 and he drove to Montreal in 1976 to watch the Summer Olympics.

“He was a huge, huge sports fan,” Paola said. “The weather did not matter.”

Of all the sports teams he followed, Paul had a physical piece of history with the Cavs. He laid the brick that lined the locker rooms and bathrooms in the Richfield Coliseum, the Cavs’ old playing grounds.

Nancy Giannini, though not as avid a fan as her husband, often went to Cavs games with him and rooted for the team just the same.

Paul was 75 when he died in 2005, and Nancy was 76 when she died in 2015, just two days before what would have been Paul’s birthday.

“We say he asked for his wife for his birthday,” Paola said.

Though they are gone, their devotion to the Cavs lives in their kids. Paola worked at the Richfield Coliseum, as did Anthony, who now works in guest services at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

“We’re a sports-loving family,” Paola said. “It’s something to instill in future generations.”

Paola said she’s waiting for family friends to come into town to top off the celebration with a bottle of champagne by her parents’ headstones.

“I want to take it down there and share it with them,” she said. “They should celebrate with us.”

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com.