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David X. Li ’02

David X. Li ’02 died on Monday, August 7, 2000 in New York from complications involving leukemia. He was 20 years old. A funeral service was held on August 16, where his remains were cremated and placed in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Although Li was only at MIT for five months during his freshman year, he immersed himself in campus life, including activities such as the Solar Electric Vehicle Team (SEVT). His hobbies included music, juggling, cooking, and drawing. Li’s close friends describe him as an incredibly intelligent, introspective young man with an terrific sense of humor and a profound generosity.

Vijay Divi ’02 said Li was extremely motivated and an excellent role model. “He did more after he left MIT than many people will do in a lifetime,” said Divi, describing Li’s continual pursuit of knowledge even at home.

Daniel Kwon ’02 remembered Li’s enthusiasm for Aeronautics and Astronautics, his intended major at MIT. “I know his spirit, his joys and hopes, all his hope of the future, are still alive and kicking,” Kwon said.

Li was as concerned for his friends and family as they were for him, recalled Yuval Mazor ’02. “He was always telling us how hard we were working and how happy he was that we were doing so much. What we were doing was so much less than he was doing, but he saw it the other way,” Mazor said.

Li’s battle against leukemia was one of the catalysts for the MIT Bone Marrow Drive and Rally for Life held last year in November. This drive, aimed at matching leukemia patients in ethnic minorities with possible bone marrow donors, was one of the most successful events of its kind in Institute history. Of the nearly 700 MIT participants, however, a complete match for Li could not be found.

A letter from Li was read at the rally, urging people to be registered as a bone marrow donor. “Don’t do this for me, because chances are very slim that you’ll be a match for me, but do this for your sense of charity and humanity,” Li said.

Li is survived by his father Yao Sun Li, his mother, Ling Pi Li, and his sister, Amy Li.