Jalen Hill in a Jan. 7, 2021 game. Jan 7, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Jalen Hill (24) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Desert Financial Arena (Tempe). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hill, who played for the UCLA Bruins’ men’s basketball team from 2017-2021, has passed away. Hill was 22.

Hill’s father George posted a tribute to him on Instagram Tuesday night. As part of that post, he wrote “Jalen went missing while in Costa Rica and we have recently learned of his passing.” George Hill’s Instagram account is private, but Los Angeles Daily News reporter Tarek Fattal posted that tribute to Twitter:

Fattah got further confirmation and some notable quotes from Hill’s former high school basketball coach, Josh Giles:

Giles and Hill grew very close during Hill’s time at Centennial.

“He lived on the same block as I did. I’d pick him up and take him to school every day with (teammate) Sedrick Barefield,” Giles said. “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.”

“We’d talk politics, relationships, religion. He was a very curious, intelligent kid. I loved him. He was the best,” Giles added.

…No cause of death has been provided, but Giles confirmed the news after exchanging text messages with George Hill.

Hill’s UCLA career got off to a rocky start in 2017-18, as he was one of three Bruins‘ freshmen (along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley) arrested for shoplifting in China on a preseason trip. That led to an entire international incident, the intervention of then-U.S. president Donald Trump, and the players’ eventual release and return to Los Angeles.

Hill wound up suspended for that entire season, as did Riley, while Ball left UCLA to play with Vytautas Prienai in Lithuania. But Hill stayed with the Bruins, and played well for them over the next three seasons, appearing in 77 games (with 40 starts) and averaging 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He was initially part of the UCLA team that advanced to the Final Four in 2021, but he last played for them that January, leaving the team and citing battles with anxiety. He said then he planned to return, but in April 2021, he posted a video to Instagram saying he was retiring from basketball and discussing his struggles with anxiety.

It’s certainly sad to see Hill (seen above in a January 7, 2021 game) pass away so young. And the basketball world offered many tributes to him Tuesday night and Wednesday morning:

Our thoughts go out to Hill’s friends and family.

[The Los Angeles Daily News, photo from Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.