Former UCLA Basketball Player Jalen Hill has reportedly died at the age of 22.
According to The LA Times, school officials confirmed Hill’s death on Sept. 21. He reportedly died after having been missing in Costa Rica, his family wrote in an Instagram post on Sept. 20. However, they did not reveal the specifics of how he passed away.
“We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people,” they said in the post. “We also acknowledge the role that so many of you have played in his. As we try to navigate this devastating time in our lives, we ask that you please give us time to grieve. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.”
UCLA coach Mick Cronin released a statement, saying “the news” of the 22-year-old’s death was “heartbreaking.”
“The news of Jalen Hill’s passing is heartbreaking,” Cronin said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Jalen was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left us far too soon.”
Shocked with grief, Hill’s former coach at Corona Centennial High, Josh Giles, called him “a really good kid.” Giles reportedly coached him to become a starting forward-center at UCLA.
“Just a really good kid had a great smile. He was a great basketball player, but I just loved him as a person,” Giles said. “I’m so stunned I don’t even have an emotion right now. To hear something like this is next-level devastating.”
Standing at 6-foot-10, Hill reportedly played his last game for the Bruins in January 2021–a game in which he went scoreless in 11 minutes against Oregon State. The following week, the team announced that he’d be sitting out a game against rival USC for personal reasons; however, he never returned as UCLA advanced to the Final Four. He later revealed that he was suffering from anxiety and depression due to the pressure he placed on himself to succeed in basketball.
“I’m just like, nah, I need to take this break. It was a tough decision to make, but once I knew what I had to do, it wasn’t hard, like I figured out, like, this is going to help me,” Hill told The Times in April of that year.
His mental state seemed to have since improved, as he said he began doing things such as sharing his feelings with loved ones and meditating.