Manchester Metropolitan University student Luke O’Connor, 19, died in hospital after he was attacked on Wilmslow Road in the student area of Fallowfield at about 2am.
In a joint statement, Luke’s family said: “Our hearts yearn for the loss of Luke; we are truly devastated by this tragedy.
“Luke was loved by so many people, and he knew how much he was loved in return.
“He loved the freedom of student living and studying and was loving life in Manchester.
“Luke was the youngest of three boys in our family and was a gentle giant with big hopes and dreams for the future.
“His biggest dream was to travel the world, but now Luke will never be able to fulfil that dream.”
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has launched a murder investigation and Detective Superintendent Neil Jones said officers will “relentlessly pursue” the attacker.
The force has appealed for any witnesses to come forward.
Luke’s family added: “He had a profound impact on so many people throughout his life.
“He was truly one of a kind, who’s presence would light up any room. Luke’s friends also adored him, as he adored them.
“They often called Luke a ‘legend’ and ‘the life and soul’ of everything he did. Everyone who met him, truly loved him.
“Our lively, bubbly, beautiful boy has been taken from us and our family are now left with a hole in our hearts that will never be filled.
“Justice needs to be served as we have lost our beautiful young Luke, who was robbed of life.
“We will continue to honour his name for as long as we are all here, and his legacy with go on forever.”
Manchester Metropolitan University said Luke’s death was “a terrible shock to our whole community”, adding: “We are saddened at the tragic death of one of our students in an incident in Fallowfield.
“Our thoughts are with their family and friends.”