Went Missing In Costa Costa Rica, Previously Battled Depression
Many across the country were heartbroken to find out former UCLA standout basketball player Jalen Hill died at age 22. Hill’s father, George Hill, announced the news of his son’s passing in an Instagram post. His cause of death has not been disclosed.
A screenshot of George’s post was shared by L.A. Daily News’ Tarek Fatta on Twitter because the elder Hill’s Instagram account is private.
“Our hearts are shattered and completely broken to inform family and friends that our beloved son, Jalen, has passed away,” George Hill wrote in the caption of the post on Tuesday, Sept. 20. “Jalen went missing while in Costa Rica and we have recently learned of his passing. We realize that many will have questions, but we are unable to share any details at this time.”
“We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people,” the post continued. “We also acknowledge the role that so many of you have played in his. 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.”
During his time with UCLA, Hill was a valuable team member who helped the Bruins go on several runs during the seasons he played.
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He worked hard to rebuild his reputation after he and two teammates made international headlines for being arrested for shoplifting in China before the start of his freshman year.
Hill owned his mistakes and grew from them.
“I had to go through a lot of things and I’m actually glad I went through it,” Hill told reporters in 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I learned a lot of different things during that time period and yeah, it was a big change in my life.”
Though he was a star on the court, Hill was open about his battles with depression and anxiety, which led him to retire from basketball in the Spring of 2021. He played his last game as a Bruin on Jan. 30, 2021.
“I’m just like, nah, I need to take this break,” Hill told the Los Angeles Times last year. “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.”
He seemed to be hopeful, however. “Now every day it just seems like I’m winning because I’m here,” Hill said. “I’m alive and my mental state has changed immensely.”
News of Hill’s death triggered an outpouring of condolences. Those who knew him best said he was a “great” person.
“He was a great young man. I drove him to school all four years because he lived down the street,” Hill’s high school coach Josh Giles told NBC LA. “I spent a lot of time with him. He was a great kid, on and off the court. He made amazing contributions to the school and to the program. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about him.”
“Our program is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Jalen Hill. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” UCLA Men’s Basketball tweeted.
“I’m just so crushed hearing the news that Jalen Hill has passed away! Devastating! Had a tremendous smile and was always great to be around! I loved our conversations! My Deepest Condolences! RIP Jalen!” former UCLA associate men’s basketball coach David Grace, who recruited Hill, tweeted.
“News is getting out about this & we’re sorry to hear about the passing of former Corona Centennial, Compton Magic & UCLA player Jalen Hill. He was 22,” @RonMFlores tweeted. “@CalHiSports & @Ballislife sends our condolences. Hill had an infectious personality & made people feel comfortable.”
PHOTO: UCLA guards Jalen Hill, left, and Kris Wilkes, right, during an NCAA college basketball game, Nov. 6, 2018, in LA. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)