Samuel Levine, a senior majoring in psychology who was known for his thoughtfulness and optimism, died of severe head trauma on March 19 while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico during spring break. He was 22.
According to KTLA, Mexican authorities say Levine fell six stories after climbing onto an air conditioning unit outside of his hotel room. The exact circumstances of his death, however, are unclear; Claire Becker, Levine’s girlfriend and a sophomore majoring in international relations and narrative studies, says he fell through an unstable part of the roof of a hotel.
Levine was born and raised in Oak Park, Calif., by his parents Michael and Debra Levine. He had two older brothers named Ryan and Andrew.
“They have a really tight-knit family. All his relatives live nearby. They are the type of family that doesn’t judge, they are so accepting,” Becker said. “The first time I met Sam’s dad, Michael, he told me that his wife and boys were his best friends and the reason he lived.”
Levine attended Oak Park High School, where he was a three-year varsity basketball player. He won the Tri-Valley League Most Valuable Player in his senior year in 2009.
Sean Spear, a friend of Levine and a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning, said Levine was kind- hearted and thoughtful.
“He was elected four times in a row for homecoming king, but was such a humble guy that he never wanted the spotlight on him,” Spear said. “He would always encourage his friends to vote for the other guys.”
After graduating from high school, Levine showed his commitment to his community and his love for sports by returning to OPHS to coach the freshman and sophomore basketball team.
Levine attended Moorpark College for one year before transferring to USC in 2010 as a sophomore.
“Sam’s dream was to go to USC and that’s why we connected so well,” Spear said. “For Sam, there was nothing about USC that he wasn’t in love with. Everything he wanted in his college experience he got at USC. I remember him telling me he felt he was truly blessed to go to such a fine university.”
Many of his friends remembered Levine for his strong sense of school spirit.
“He was a proud Trojan,” said Justin Silber, one of Levine’s roommates and a senior majoring in business administration. “He wanted to go to USC his entire life. He loved Los Angeles. He was a Southern California kid.”
Levine was an active member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. His fraternity brothers, who held a memorial for Levine Monday night, said he touched several lives during his time in the fraternity.
“He was always quick to smile — very lighthearted, very kind, very caring — and probably one of the most genuine people I know,” said Ryan Park, a member of Sigma Chi . “[He was] always there if you wanted to talk about something heavy and always willing to give advice.”
Becker also endearingly described his infectious personality.
“I fell in love with him the first time I saw him,” Becker said. “He was so classy and such a gentleman and he was so charismatic that just looking at him made me smile. Everything that came out of his mouth was so thoughtful. He was very calm and collected and radiated confidence but not arrogance at all. I don’t think he knew how incredible he was, but everyone else could see it.”
Levine was especially passionate about athletics.
He was a practice player on the USC’s women’s basketball team his sophomore year and was a marketing director for the men’s baseball team his junior year. Upon graduation, Levine had his sights set on the sports industry.
“He was looking to combine all the things he loved and had learned: sports, psychology and marketing,” Silber said.
Levine’s friends said because his zeal for life resonated with many people, his impact will be felt forever.
“In 22 years, Sam Levine was able to touch more people than others do in a lifetime,” Spear said. “He was a guy who truly made the world a better place. He will be dearly missed but I know his spirit will live on through all those who have been touched by knowing him.”
Silber said the death of his roommate has left the community in shock.
“It’s been a really somber and sobering experience realizing how good of a person we had,” Silber said. “He was the one person everyone loved and the one person everyone respected,”
Levine’s funeral will be held today at 10 a.m. at Pierce Brothers Memorial Park in Westlake Village, Calif.