Jalen Hill, former UCLA basketball player, tragically died at 22 years old, the school confirmed on Tuesday night.
Mick Cronin, head coach of the basketball team, tweeted that the death was “heartbreaking.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” said Cronin, who coached Hill for two seasons in Westwood. “Jalen was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left us far too soon.”
Hill’s family also confirmed the passing of Jalen on social media.
According to a statement from the family, the 6-foot-10 college star “went missing while in Costa Rica and we have recently learned of his passing.”
However, while it was revealed he went missing while in Costa Rica, no further details surrounding his death were released.
Hill was ranked as a top-100 recruit coming out of Centennial High School in Corona, Californina. The power forward signed with the Bruins back in 2017.
However, his career started off with an international controversy involving himself and two other UCLA players, including LiAngelo Ball. They were arrested for shoplifting while in China for a game in back November 2017.
He was suspended indefinitely over the incident and missed his entire freshmen season. However, he still played for the Bruins from 2018 to 2021.
In his UCLA career, Hill saw time in 77 games, averaging 6.5 points per game. He also averaged 6.4 rebounds per game. He retired from basketball in 2021. At the time, he reported struggling with anxiety and depression.
Jalen Hill’s Family and UCLA Family Mourn His Tragic Death
Hill played in his last game for the Bruins back on January 30, 2021. He posted eleven minutes against Oregon State. The following week, the team announced he wouldn’t be playing against USC for personal reasons.
He never returned to the team from that point, even as the squad advanced to the Final Four. He later revealed how his anxiety and depression had overcome him around this time.
Hill never returned as UCLA advanced to the Final Four, later revealing that he had become consumed by anxiety and depression after putting excessive pressure on himself to succeed.
“I’m just like, nah, I need to take this break,” Hill told The Los Angeles Times in April 2021 about his decision to leave the team. “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.”
However, back in April 2021, he seemed to be doing better in dealing with his personal issues. “Now every day it just seems like I’m winning because I’m here,” Hill said, cracking a smile. “I’m alive and my mental state has changed immensely.”
His family released a statement, asking for privacy during this difficult time.
“We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people,” the family wrote in the statement. “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.”