MESQUITE, Texas -- Utah football player Aaron Lowe was remembered for his kindness, brilliant smile and his "infectious optimism" at a memorial service for him on Monday in his hometown.
Lowe, a sophomore cornerback, was killed on Sept. 26 after being shot at a party in Salt Lake City.
Utah president Taylor Randall, athletic director Mark Harlan, coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utah football team made the trip to the Dallas area to remember Lowe, who laid in his full Utes uniform in an open casket, with a large Utah U behind him with his No. 22 uniform on either side of it. Before the service started, the casket was closed and his white Utah helmet was placed on a pedestal in front of it.
Lowe's position coach, Sharrieff Shah, said that Lowe had used "infectious optimism" to work hard to become an honor-roll student and improve as a player, often telling him, "Coach, I'll be better." It's a saying that has stuck with him now that Lowe is gone.
"Don't just be better," Shah said. "Be 22% better. If you tell your mom you love her 10 times, tell her two more times. If you do 10 reps, do two more."
The mantra has been adopted by the Utah team in the wake of two tragedies. Whittingham wore a shirt with the saying after Saturday night's 42-26 victory over USC.
Lowe was high school teammates with another Utah player, running back Ty Jordan, who died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in December. Lowe switched his number from 2 to Jordan's 22 to honor him. In August, Lowe became the first recipient of the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship, voted on by the team.
Whittingham spoke of his love for Lowe, calling him a special person.
"He lived his life with clear eyes and a full heart," Whittingham said, invoking a phrase from "Friday Night Lights" in a nod to Lowe's Texas roots.
Whittingham said Utah had also established a scholarship fund in Lowe's name and he was proud to be the first contributor.
"We won't get over it," he said of Lowe's death, "but we will get through it."
Utes quarterback Ja'Quinden Jackson spoke to Lowe's mother, Donna Lowe-Stern, and the family, saying "I'll be 22 percent better for y'all. He's not able to do it, so I'll do it. He will live through me."
Cornerback LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson remembered the first time he walked into his dorm room and met Lowe, his first roommate at Utah, wondering "what's up with this guy, cheesin', smiling away?" to laughter from the audience. He said Lowe became a big brother to him, and thanked Whittington for recruiting him so that the team had what little time they had with him, before turning to Lowe's family.
"That win against SC was definitely for Aaron," he said.
Family and friends spoke of the pain of their loss and the shock of the news.
Salt Lake City police have arrested Buk M. Buk, an uninvited guest at the party, and charged him with aggravated murder, attempted murder and felony discharge of a firearm. Police say Buk, 22, is also accused of shooting an unidentified 20-year-old woman during the same incident. She is reportedly still in critical condition.
Randall, the Utah president, said the university lit the U on the hill overlooking campus in honor of Lowe during a vigil on Sept. 29.
"We lit that light because Donna told me Aaron was a light," he said. "I'll be that light. We can all be that light."