Hill’s passing is “heartbreaking,” according to UCLA coach Mick Cronin, who added that the former Bruins forward “left us far too soon” and was “a warm-hearted young man with a beautiful grin.”
Hill’s family revealed in an Instagram post that they recently learned of his passing after he went missing in Costa Rica, but they withheld any other information.
His family stated in the Instagram post, “We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people.” “We also recognize the important part that so many of you played in his. As we struggle to get through this traumatic period in our life, we ask that you please give us time to grieve.”
Josh Giles, Hill’s coach at Centennial High School in Corona, California, told the Los Angeles Times that Hill was “a great basketball player, but I just loved him as a person.”
“I’m so stunned I don’t even have an emotion right now,” said Giles, who also told the Times that he has been in contact with Hill’s family. “To hear something like this is next-level devastating.”
The 6-foot-10 Hill played parts of three seasons at UCLA before retiring after the 2020-21 season, citing anxiety and depression in an Instagram video announcing his decision. He left the team in February 2021 but did not address his status until April, saying he did not want to distract from the Bruins’ run to the Final Four.
“I just had to distance myself because the headspace I was in, it was damaging the team,” Hill said in the video. “So I didn’t want to restrict them from achieving their goals, too.”
Hill was one of three UCLA players, along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley, who was arrested in China on shoplifting charges in November 2017. He was suspended for the 2017-18 season but returned to the program the next season and appeared in 77 games during his career with the Bruins, averaging 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds.