Former University of California Los Angeles basketball player Jalen Hill has passed away after taking a mental health break — and going missing in Costa Rica.
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Jalen played for the UCLA Bruins for three seasons before he officially left the team in February 2021 for “personal reasons”. Later, he spoke with the Los Angeles Times to clarify he needed a mental health break. In April of last year he told the outlet he struggled greatly with depression and anxiety:
“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.”
He also posted a video to his Instagram the same month, saying he felt like his mental state was “damaging” the team’s performance:
“I just had to distance myself because the headspace I was in, it was damaging the team, so I didn’t want to restrict them from achieving their goals too.”
Sadly, Hill would never return to the court, as his family confirmed on Tuesday via his dad George Hill‘s Instagram the athlete has tragically passed away after mysteriously going missing. The post, on the now private page, shows a photo of his son from a Sports Illustrated shoot, and reads of the family’s heartbreak:
“Our hearts are shattered and completely broken to inform family and friends that our beloved son, Jalen has passed away.”
The post continues to say Jalen had gone missing in Costa Rica a while ago — he died in August but the parents only “recently” found out about their son’s passing:
“Jalen went missing while in Costa Rica and we have recently learned of his passing. We realize that many will have questions but we are unable to share any details at this time.”
So, so sad.
It finishes by asking for privacy as they try and navigate this unimaginable time in their lives:
“As we try to navigate this devastating time in our lives, we ask that you please give us time to grieve.”
Heartbreaking. He was only 22 years old…
The 6-foot-10 basketball star was a driving force in the Bruins’ 2019-2020 team. The then-sophomore averaged 9.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game — making 25 starts along the way. He was also member of the United States’ 2015 team at the FIBA Americas U-16 Championship and won a gold medal. He averaged 8.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
Many fans and friends alike have taken to social media to express their grief and condolences to the family after his tragic passing. It’s unclear how long he had been missing or in what way he died — but what’s certain is he left a lasting impact on so many people who crossed paths with him. Such a devastating loss.
Our hearts go out to Jalen’s family and friends, we’re sending them love and light. May he rest in peace.
[Image via YouTube/Mike Regalado/SportsCenter NEXT]