Former UCLA basketball player Jalen Hill has reportedly passed away. He was 22.
The university confirmed Hill’s death on Wednesday morning (September 21). According to ESPN, UCLA coach Mick Cronin said in a statement that Hill’s passing is “heartbreaking” and said the former Bruins forward "was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left us far too soon."
It was not immediately clear how Hill died. In an Instagram post, Hill’s family said they learned of his death recently after he went missing in Costa Rica, but did not add further details.
"We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people," his family wrote. "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."
Josh GIles, Hill’s coach at Centennial High School in Corona, California, told the Los Angeles Times that Hill was "a great basketball player, but I just loved him as a person."
"I'm so stunned I don't even have an emotion right now," said Giles. "To hear something like this is next-level devastating."
Hill was also one of three UCLA basketball players (along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley) who were detained in China after being arrested on shoplifting charges in November 2017. He would subsequently be suspended for the 2017-18 season but returned to the program the next season and appeared in 77 games during his career with the Bruins.
He played three seasons at UCLA before retiring from college basketball after the 2020-21 season, citing anxiety and depression. He left the team in February 2021 but didn’t address his status until April.
After leaving, he said that he did not want to distract the team from its journey to the NCAA Men’s Basketball FInal Four, which they achieved before losing to Gonzaga.
"I just had to distance myself because the headspace I was in, it was damaging the team," Hill said in an Instagram video. "So I didn't want to restrict them from achieving their goals, too."