Jalen Hill, a standout basketball player for the UCLA Bruins from 2017 to 2021, has died, his father shared Tuesday. Hill was 22.
“Our hearts are shattered and completely broken to inform family and friends that our beloved son, Jalen, has passed away,” Hill’s father, George Hill, wrote Instagram Tuesday night, according to Los Angeles Daily News‘ Tarek Fattal who shared a screenshot of the grieving father’s post.
George said that Jalen had gone missing while on a trip to Costa Rica, and the family “recently learned of his passing.”
“We realize that many will have questions, but we are unable to share any details at this time.”
He continued, “We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people. We also acknowledge the role that so many of you have played in his.
George ended the post by saying, “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.”
Following the news, Jalen’s former team posted a statement on Twitter.
“Our program is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Jalen Hill,” the UCLA Men’s Basketball account wrote. “We offer our most sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Josh Giles, Jalen’s high school basketball coach at Corona Centennial High, also spoke out about his former player’s death.
“He lived on the same block as I did,” Giles told Los Angeles Daily News. “I’d pick him up and take him to school every day with (teammate) Sedrick Barefield.”
“It would take 25 minutes to get to and from school every day, so we’d talk in the car, and it was never about basketball,” the coach recalled. “We’d talk politics, relationships, religion. He was a very curious, intelligent kid. I loved him. He was the best.”
In 2017, Jalen and two other UCLA players, LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley, were arrested for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou.
In a statement to PEOPLE at the time, UCLA said, “We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China. The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”
According to Sports Illustrated, the three returned home and were suspended for their entire freshman year. Ball ended up leaving the program, while Jalen and Riley returned to the court in 2018.
Since then, per the Los Angeles Daily News, Jalen had been open about his struggles with anxiety and depression.
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Jalen’s last game was on Jan. 30, 2021, for the Bruins. After the game, he made decision to take a break.
“I’m just like, nah, I need to take this break,” Hill told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “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.”