A former UCLA basketball player, Jalen Hill, has died at age 22, the school confirmed in a message posted on Twitter:
“Our program is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Jelen Hill. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” UCLA Men’s Basketball wrote.
Hill died after going missing in Costa Rica, his family said on Tuesday night.
From the New York Post:
Hill left the UCLA program midway through his junior season in 2021, citing depression and anxiety.
“When I (took a step back), it was a whole new life,” Hill said at the time. “I’ve never felt this happy before in my life. I just wake up and I’m just happy to be alive. And it sounds crazy to say it, but it’s just true.”
Hill had been missing for a couple of days, his family said.
The 6-foot-10 forward was a Corona, Calif. native and a four-star recruit for UCLA. His career with the Bruins got off to an inauspicious start when he, along with fellow freshmen LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley, were arrested in China in 2017 for shoplifting while there for a game against Georgia Tech. It led to a season-long suspension for all three players and made constant headlines as LiAngelo was part of the famous basketball family, led by talkative patriarch LaVar Ball.
Hill, though, stayed with the team and became a solid contributor for the winning program.
“I’m so stunned I don’t even have an emotion right now. To hear something like this is next-level devastating,” Josh Giles, Hill’s high school coach at Corona Centennial High, told the Los Angeles Times.