Griffin Sean Madden Fund

Griffin's Story

Griffin Sean Madden was born on July 15th, 1993 in Cincinnati, Ohio. During his childhood, Griffin resided in many places; however, he spent the majority of his life in Basking Ridge, NJ from the age of 6 until he graduated Ridge High School in 2011.

During his time in NJ, Griffin explored many passions. He played competitive tennis from the age of 5 until his freshman year in high school. At the age of 15, he became a certified Crossfit coach along with his brother, Thomas, demonstrating his excellent leadership skills from such a young age.

He was educated and cultured. He was a world traveler. From 8th grade to senior year, he served as an ambassador for world peace via Dwight Eisenhower's People to People. Countries he visited during his ambassadorship included most of Eastern Europe, Russia, the Baltic nations, Japan, The Netherlands, Australia/New Zealand, and Fiji.

He grew up reading with his mother, Katy. They shared a nightly ritual where they read beside one another before bed. Griffin's nose was always glued to a good book. His love for literature manifested into an academic drive from his literature class during his junior year in high school, which eventually opened up the doors to the world of Russian literature, exploring iconic writers from Tolstoy to Dostoevsky and to Nabokov until the very end.


His academic drive had another significant turning point: his weekend stay at Columbia University as a prospectives applicant. He shadowed a Columbia student and audited his first ever Philosophy class. He walked away awed and curious, already a determined philosopher and thinker.

Griffin's father, Mike, who was living in San Francisco at the time, had the hopes of being closer to his son. Mike incepted the idea of applying to UC Berkeley. Griffin thought that it was a long shot, but he ended up on the waitlist. Fast forward to spring of 2011, Griffin was visiting his father in San Francisco. At this point of time, Griffin was finalizing his college decisions, with NYU as his first choice. During this short visit, California decided to keep Griffin --- he was accepted to UC Berkeley. In a heartbeat, Griffin embraced his future in the Golden State.

During his life in California, Griffin continued to expand his passions.

In 2015, he graduated with degrees in Philosophy and Slavic Literature and Language. He is remembered by his professors, mentors and colleagues as an exceptionally intelligent, "luminous" young scholar. The past two summers, he studied at Middlebury College to further immerse himself into the Russian Language.

From his first year at UC Berkeley, Griffin began working as an Usher Captain for Cal Performances. He quickly became an essential part of the Cal Performances community, dedicating many hours to his work. This year, Griffin was promoted as Audience Services Manager, where he continued to demonstrate his leadership skills and practiced dedication and hard work. His co-workers of many years will always remember his bright and warm smile even during stressful events, such as the Bernie Sanders' event. His work at Cal Performances was his pride and joy.

Griffin was also a very active member of the Bay Area artistic and underground music community. From a young age, Griffin's deep connection to music was evident. He spent many hours driving around NJ with friends and family, exploding with excitement as he blasted The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Cut Copy, M83, and many other fundamental bands in electronic music. As an aspiring DJ, Griffin and his sister, Shannon, joined forces and produced their own underground electronic music community: Tri Works, inspired by Moby Dick. He spent many hours hovering over his turntables, mastering technical mixing using only vinyl. He participated as a DJ for UC Berkeley's radio station, KALX. Through KALX, he discovered Cherushii's music. He was heavily inspired by her music as a fellow Bay Area musician. The two together have played at several successful dance parties, such as Tri Works and Run the Length Of Your Wildness.

Throughout his life, Griffin surrounded himself with brilliant, supportive, and amazing friends; one of them was David Cline. The two boys met during their first year at Cal as floormates in Clark Kerr, and their brotherly love grew over the years. Together, they made electronic music. To Griffin, music composition was his next big step as an artist. They spent many hours trying to figure out electronic devices that have existed longer than they have. Many days, Griffin felt like he accomplished little, but the struggles never stopped his ambitions and love for music. He never stopped chasing his dreams.

Griffin lived his life fully. His luminous intelligence and curiosity will continue to awe many. His genuine and kind heart will continue to guide us all. His love and passion for music inspires artists to never give up, to keep dancing, and to live forever.