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Famed Pensacola Attorney Fred Levin has died at the age of 83 from COVID-19

Jim Little
Pensacola News Journal

Famed Pensacola Attorney Fred Levin has died at the age of 83 from COVID-19.

Levin Papantonio Rafferty spokesperson Mollye Barrows confirmed to the News Journal that Levin died Tuesday afternoon from COVID-19.

Barrows said Levin was asymptomatic when diagnosed with the virus five days ago and the family is not releasing any additional details at this point.

Levin, a Pensacola native, was known as one of the nation's top trial attorneys throughout his career, which began in 1961 when he joined the Levin and Askew law firm founded by his brother David and Reubin Askew.

2019:Fred Levin donates $2 million to cancer research

Levin's most famous victory in the courtroom came in 1990s when he was able to get the Florida Legislature to change the statute to Florida's Medicaid law that allowed it to recoup money for the cost of treating lung cancer. Levin used the change in the law to lead an effort to reach a $13 billion settlement with the tobacco industry.

Levin was no stranger to controversy during his career, often embracing it, and was investigated by the Florida Bar on four separate occasions for making controversial remarks in public. One investigation in 1990 led to a public reprimand from the bar over his criticism of law enforcement prosecuting gambling crimes.

Levin also became boxing manager to his fellow Pensacola native Roy Jones Jr. in 1989 and managed Jones fights to his heavyweight championship in 2003.

Pensacola boxer Roy Jones, Jr. poses for photographs with longtime friend Fred Levin before the start of Wednesday night’s 2018 Florida Sports Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Levin used his success in his law career to peruse philanthropy work and donated more than $35 million to non-profits and universities.

The University of Florida named its law school after Levin in 1999 after he gave a $10 million contribution to his alma mater.

In recent years, Levin's health had started to decline after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016.

In an interview with the News Journal in 2019, Levin said he had been lucky. Lucky in life. Lucky in love. Lucky to live five years beyond a lung cancer diagnosis.

2019:Fred Levin on $35 million in philanthropic donations: 'Give it while you're living'

Levin's wife of 51 years, Marilyn, died in 2011. In the 2019 interview, Levin recounted meeting his wife when they were students at the University of Florida.

Noting at the time he wasn’t the “coolest guy in the world,” he said, “I’m not sure I swept her off her feet. She actually swept me off my feet.”

The News Journal will have more about Levin's life and legacy on Wednesday.