Jalen Hill: Former UCLA basketball player dies at 22 after going missing in Costa Rica
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Jalen Hill, who played basketball at UCLA for three seasons until leaving last year for personal reasons, has died after going missing while on a trip to Costa Rica. His family "recently learned of his passing", his father George Hill wrote on Instagram on Tuesday, according to Los Angeles Daily News' sports and UCLA reporter Tarek Fattal, who shared a screenshot of the grieving father's post.
"Our hearts are shattered and completely broken to inform family and friends that our beloved son, Jalen, has passed away," the 22-years-old father posted on Instagram. He continued, "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. We also acknowledge the role that so many of you have played in his."
Jalen’s father, George Hill, posted this on Instagram confirming Jalen’s passing. pic.twitter.com/TU1tjscVCl— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) September 21, 2022
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."
Reports said Hill had been battling against both anxiety and depression for a number of years - a condition that worsened after he was suspended by the NCAA in his first season following an arrest in China for shoplifting.
Jalen's former team also posted a statement on Twitter, following the news of his death. "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."
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. pic.twitter.com/JOUrHjh9NU— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) September 21, 2022
Jalen's high school basketball coach at Corona Centennial High, Josh Giles, also spoke about his former student's death to Los Angeles Daily News. Giles said, "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." The coach recalled, "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."
Jalen made the decision to take a break after his last game on January 30, 2021, for the Bruins. "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."