Alexander AJ Boik was one of the 12 people killed in a shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012.
Boik had just graduated from Gateway High School where he played baseball, said a family friend.
In a statement the Boik's family said he "was a wonderful, handsome and loving 18-year-old with a warm and loving heart."
"He enjoyed his friends and family and always brought a smile and quick wit to every occasion. He was a talented young man who enjoyed baseball, making pottery and music," the family said.
Boik had planned on attending the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall.
His dream was to become an art teacher and open his own studio, his family said.
"He was dating a beautiful young lady who was with him at the time and we are blessed that she survived the incident," the family said.
"AJ was loved by all that knew him. We want to try and focus on the beautiful lives that were ended and not the evil that is responsible. This is a time for us to remember our loved ones and cherish the memories we have of them," the family said.
At a vigil to support Boik's family, Sheri Ames cried, saying, "Eighteen years old, I mean, life's just beginning. You know, there's just no fairness. At all. It's just not right."
Mariah Farrow was shocked by the news. She says she attended the same high school, and frequently enjoyed the Aurora Mall theater. She says the theater was a place for good memories, but the event has been a horrific shock.
"You just never think that it can happen so close to home. Somewhere you've spent countless times at. It just, it blows my mind," she said.
Another friend, Jordan Crofter, described Boik as someone who "didn't hold anything back. He was just his own person."
"He was a ball of joy. He was never sad or depressed. He wanted everybody to be happy," Crofter told The Associated Press.
Crofter said Boik played baseball from when he was a child through his junior year in high school.
He said Boik and his girlfriend were the "perfect couple" and people expected them to get married.
"If he were still here, he'd try to make everyone have a positive outlook of the situation and not allow it to affect their outlook of life," Crofter said.
A Facebook page called "Remembering AJ Boik was created here: https://www.facebook.com/RememberAJBoiK