Jalen Hill, who played three seasons at UCLA until leaving for personal reasons last year, has passed away, according to his family and the university. He is 22 years old.
Hill died after disappearing in Costa Rica, his family posted on Instagram Tuesday. No further details were provided.
“We know Jaylen has played a role in many people’s lives,” Hill’s family wrote in the post. “We also acknowledge the role that many of you have played in him. We ask that you give us time to grieve as we try to navigate this devastating time in our lives. Let us remain in your thoughts and prayers middle.”
UCLA and coach Mick Cronin released a statement on social media Wednesday acknowledging Hill’s death.
“Our program is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Jalen Hill. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” the school said.
Cronin called Hill’s death “heartbreaking.”
“Jaylen was a warmhearted young man with a big smile and he left us quickly,” the coach tweeted.
Hill, a forward center from Corona, Calif., started 40 of 77 games for the Bruins in three seasons, averaging 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds.
In April 2021, Hill posted an Instagram video in which he explained his reasons for leaving the project in February of that year. He said he will quit basketball while dealing with anxiety and depression.
“The reason I left had nothing to do with the team, Cronin or the coach, nothing to do with it. Just so everyone could understand that it was me,” he said in the video.
As a freshman, Hill, along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley,Shoplifting to play Pac-12 games during a goodwill visit to the program. UCLA suspended all three players for the entire 2017-18 season.
Ball left school, but Hill and Riley returned to finish their college careers.