The Oscar Wilde quote on Adam Levine’s Facebook page summarizes the way the student led his life before his death last Saturday, according to many close friends. During the week since Levine died, students have shared their memories as they mourned the loss of a fellow Cane, with a candlelight vigil on Wednesday and a memorial service at Hillel on Friday. Levine, a senior majoring in political science, died early in the morning on Saturday, March 19, after attending Ultra Music Festival.
Christina Stamatiou, who was given the nickname “Xxxtina” by Levine, was close with him during her freshman year and said the quote “was so Adam.”
“He never held back; he didn’t believe in moderation, in being conservative,” Stamatiou said after Levine’s memorial service on the Lakeside Patio Wednesday night. “He dared to do anything people were scared of doing; he didn’t have that voice in his head that most people will have telling them that they may fail.”
The large turnouts at services on Wednesday and Friday reflected Levine’s label as a “campus celebrity.” UM student Catherine De Freitas created a post in BuzzFeed’s community category titled “101 things we learned from THE Adam Levine.”
After Friday’s memorial, Student Government Vice President Ishtpreet Singh said that the Wilde quote was “so representative” of Levine. Singh said he was close with Levine since they served together on Student Government’s Freshman Leadership Council. Levine was comfortable being independent, setting his own goals without worrying about what others thought, according to Singh.
“Adam has inspired so many freshmen. They look up to him. He always said, ‘This is your four years to be selfish,’” Singh said. “Adam was the person who put himself out there, embraced who he was and didn’t hide anything.”
Students talked about Levine’s willingness to be in the spotlight as well as his infectious nature, dazzling smile and ability to live life to the fullest. Many who knew Levine remembered his signature introduction: “My name is Adam Levine, like the singer in Maroon 5, but better.”
SG President Brianna Hathaway recalled the same introduction in her tearful speech at Wednesday’s vigil and said it made her want to be his friend.
That phrase is so synonymous with Levine that his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), sold customized white T-shirts with “Like the celebrity but better,” on them. AEPi will use the proceeds for a commemorative tree and plaque outside their fraternity house. Some of the money will also go toward Camp Harlem, a Jewish summer camp Levine attended.
Many of the AEPi brothers traveled to Reston, Virginia on Tuesday to attend Levine’s funeral. Harry Kroll and Marc Szasz, brothers of AEPi, were among the 500 people to pay their respects in Levine’s hometown. They said that Levine was an upbeat person who always saw the positive side of life.
“He wouldn’t want people to be sad or teary, but to remember his legacy through laughter,” Szasz said at Wednesday night’s vigil. “In the funeral, when my eyes watered up, I thought to myself, ‘What would Adam say?’ Honestly, he would tell me to stop being a b**** and suck it up.”
Rabbi Jonathan Fisch, the chapter advisor of AEPi at UM and a rabbi at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, led the Jewish services on Friday night.
“Do you think he would want people to mourn his death or cry? No. He would say, ‘Party up,’” Fisch said.
Fisch also pointed out that the decisions people make can affect loved ones, citing Levine’s decision to “live on the edge.”
“We lost him because of drugs, until his body couldn’t take it anymore,” Fisch said during the services. In an interview afterward, he expanded upon his statement. “Adam made some difficult decisions that didn’t sit well for his body, and it is important for college students to know in this setting that your choices not only affect you, but your community, your parents, your brothers.”
It has not been confirmed whether or not drugs played a part in Levine’s death.
Singh concurred with what Fisch said about decisions affecting others, although he said he’d rather remember the man the UM community has come to love instead of finding reasons for his death.
“It’s important to think about the choices we make. Some choices affect everyone around us,” Singh said. “Adam was an amazing person, but a choice like that really matters. It is crazy to see how much pain it causes to others. This doesn’t change how great of a person he was, as he truly did impact people in amazing ways.”
Owen Katz, an AEPi brother who studied abroad with Levine in Australia for a semester, said Levine treated every day as a celebration. Speaking at Wednesday’s vigil, Katz told the crowd how dramatic and persuasive Levine could be.
Katz remembered a night in Australia when, at 12:30 a.m., Levine called and said that there was an emergency and that Katz had “to get up immediately.”
The emergency: Levine’s party plans for the night fell through when others decided to stay in.
“That’s exactly who Adam was,” Katz said. “A dire situation to Adam was when he couldn’t be social to the maximum of his capabilities.”
Levine’s charm and infectious energy persuaded Katz to join him for a night out and Katz said it turned out to be one of the “best nights” of his life.
Ashley Pittaluga, vice president-elect for Student Government, also remembered when Levine persuaded her to get up in the middle of class to share a pitcher at the Rathskeller.
“He was the only person who could have ever gotten me to get up in the middle of class and leave to share a pitcher with him in the Rat. I looked back and think why I did it, because it was so out of character,” Pittaluga said. “I’m glad I have that memory and it is one of my favorites with him.”
Stamatiou shared a similar thought, saying Levine wanted to live every day to the fullest, even if it meant going to extremes. Although she is sad, she said her memory of his character and how many people’s lives he touched gives her comfort.
“Adam was the most vibrant spirit I have ever met in my life,” Stamatiou said.