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Jalen Hill, a former UCLA men’s basketball standout, has died after going missing in Costa Rica, his family announced on social media Tuesday. He was 22 years old.
Hill’s family did not reveal any details about the former player’s death.
Hill told the Los Angeles Times in April 2021 that he struggled with anxiety and depression after putting a heavy weight on his shoulders to be successful in the sport, saying it was part of the reason he ended up leaving the team. .
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“We know Jalen has played a role in so many people’s lives,” his family said on Instagram. “We also recognize the role so many of you have played in yours. As we try to navigate this devastating time in our lives, we ask that you give us time to grieve. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.”
UCLA and men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin issued statements on social media.
“Our program is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student and athlete Jalen Hill. We offer our sincerest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” the school said.
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Cronin added: “The news of Jalen Hill’s passing is heartbreaking. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Jalen was a loving young man with a big smile who left us too soon.”
Josh Giles, Hill’s coach at Centennial High School in California, told the Los Angeles Times the news of the basketball player’s death was “another level of devastating.”
Hill played for the Bruins beginning with the 2018-19 season with Steve Alford and Murray Bartow and the final season and a half of his career with Cronin.
He was on the team that eventually reached the Final Four in 2021, but took a leave of absence from the team in January 2021 and never returned. He said the los angeles times he needed to take a break, calling it a “difficult decision”.
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Hill was also involved in an incident in China in 2017. Hill, a freshman at the time, along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley, were accused of shoplifting in China. Then-President Trump helped negotiate his release and then all three players were suspended for the season.