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    DJ AM Specialized in Beating the Odds

    DJ AM Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

    DJ AM's Tuesday afternoon tweet quoted Grandmaster Flash: "New york, new york. Big city of dreams, but everything in new york aint always what it seems."

    No, it isn't.

    With word today that DJ AM had been found dead in New York, the inspiring story of one of the music world's premiere spinmeisters took an unexpected turn. A man who had seemed incapable of being beat, whether it be by plane crash, obesity or drug troubles, had been finally, fatally beat.

    At age 36.

    It was a little less than one year ago that DJ AM pulled off his most spectacular feat, emerging with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker as the lone survivors of a fiery Learjet tragedy that killed four people.

    On Friday, Barker's wife, Shanna Moakler, remembered DJ AM via Twitter as a "great artist." Given DJ AM's history, she might have added escape artist, too.

    The turntable specialist was badly injured, to be sure, in the Sept. 19, 2008, incident, as was Barker, with both music stars suffering second- and third-degree burns.

    Still, as Dr. Fred Mullins, who treated DJ AM and Barker, said at the time, "Anybody who can survive a plane crash is pretty lucky."

    Then again, maybe anybody who's in a plane crash is altogether unlucky.

    The star-crossed life of DJ AM began in Philadelphia. By his own account, the pre-DJ Adam Goldstein was a child driven to food and then drugs by an "unbelievably cruel," verbally abusive father. He was obese by 10, a drug addict before he was 13. As he told Glamour last year, his early DJ gigs financed a crack habit.

    At 24 he put a .22-caliber pistol to his head, he told the magazine, and pulled the trigger. The gun didn't fire. 

    He got lucky.

    Rehab, a world-class career, an engagement to Nicole Richie, a relationship with Mandy Moore, gastric-bypass surgery, even a status-affirming cameo on Entourage followed. If it all seemed like the stuff of memoirs, DJ AM thought so, too. In June he told E! Online's Marc Malkin he would "definitely" write a book.

    One day.

    "I'll work on it when I see the ending in sight," DJ AM said. "That may be a long time from now, but it will happen." 

    Despite the transformation, despite the success, despite the sober decade he said last year he'd enjoyed, DJ AM never seemed to forget the all-too-human Adam Goldstein.

    "Every day I have to remind myself that no matter how much time I have behind me, I'm still a drug addict," he told Glamour.

    "At any given moment, I'm five seconds away from walking up to someone, grabbing their drink out of their hand and downing it."

    The plane crash, which briefly reunited him with Moore, seemed to give DJ AM a new sense of purpose. 

    "I was saved for a reason," he told People. "Maybe I'm going to help someone else."

    Apparently true to his mission, DJ AM recently shot and completed work on an MTV reality show about addiction. 

    In recent days DJ AM, judging by his Twitter page, seemed to have no more pressing concerns than summer. He wrote of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a New York Mets game. He jawed about White Castle burgers with John Mayer. He gave a shout-out to fellow A-list DJ Samantha Ronson.

    And on Tuesday afternoon, he referenced Grandmaster Flash and "New York, New York," the seminal rapper's 1980s hit with the chant of a chorus,"Too much, too many people, too much."

    It was DJ AM's last tweet.  

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