Former UCLA basketball player Jalen Hill has died. He was 22 years old.
Hill’s father George Hill initially announced his death in an Instagram post on Tuesday. He wrote that Hill had gone missing in Costa Rica and that his family had recently learned of his death. He did not provide other details.
“Our hearts are broken and completely broken to tell family and friends that our beloved son Jalen has passed away,” George Hill wrote on Instagram. “Jalen went missing in Costa Rica and we recently learned of his passing.
“We know that Jalen has played a role in the lives of so many people. We also recognize the role that many of you have played in it.
“We understand that many will have questions, but we cannot share any details yet. As we try to get through this devastating time in our lives, we ask that you give us time to grieve.”
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times later confirmed Hill’s death with his former high school coach at Corona California’s Centennial High School, Josh Giles.
“Hearing something like that is devastating on the next level,” Giles told the Times.
Hill played two-plus seasons for UCLA from 2018–21. A 6-foot-10 forward, he averaged 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds in 70 games on the program. The team acknowledged Hill’s death on their Twitter account late Tuesday night.
Hill last played with the Bruins in January 2021 before missing a game on February 6 against USC with program with reference to personal reasons. He no longer played for UCLA and missed the team’s Final Four appearance that spring.
Hill announced that in April video on instagram that he is retiring from basketball, citing anxiety and depression.
“I just had to distance myself because the free space I was in was hurting the team,” Hill said in the video, congratulating his teammates on reaching the Final Four. “So I didn’t want to restrict them from reaching their goals either.”
Hill was one of three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China in 2017, along with Liangelo Ball and Cody Riley. He was a freshman. All three players were suspended for the season. Hill returned in 2018, playing 33 games for the Bruins in the first of two-plus active seasons. In his April 2021 video, he cited the arrest as a source of his anxiety and depression.
“It started when I was arrested in China at the age of 17. For me it was just a lot. I really didn’t want to open up or anything like that. It happened last year and then this year, and then COVID happened and all that. It was just a lot for me. I had to retreat.”
He added that when he took a step back, “it was a whole new life” and that “I’ve never felt so happy before.”