Jalen Hill, who played basketball at UCLA for three seasons until leaving last year for personal reasons, has died, according to his family and the university. He was 22.
His family posted on Instagram Tuesday that Hill had died after going missing in Costa Rica. No further details were provided.
“We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people,” Hill’s family wrote in the post. “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.”
UCLA and coach Mick Cronin posted statements on social media Wednesday acknowledging Hill’s death.
“Our program is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Jalen Hill. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” the school said.
Cronin called Hill’s death “heartbreaking.”
“Jalen was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left us far too soon,” the coach tweeted.
Hill, a forward-center from Corona, California, averaged 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds while starting 40 of 77 career games for the Bruins during three seasons.
In April 2021, Hill posted an Instagram video in which he explained his reasons for leaving the program that February. He said he would be retiring from basketball as he dealt with anxiety and depression.
“The reason I left had nothing to do with the team or Cronin or coaches, nothing like that. Just so everybody can understand, it was me,” he said in the video.
As freshmen, Hill, along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley, were arrested in China in November 2017 for shoplifting during the program’s goodwill visit to play a Pac-12 game. UCLA suspended all three players for the entire 2017-18 season.
Ball left school, but Hill and Riley returned to complete their college careers.