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- Australian rules footballer
The AFL community has been left shocked and heartbroken by the tragic death of former Fremantle star Harley Balic.
The devastating news comes just days after Balic turned 25.
Balic - whose death isn't being treated as suspicious - was labelled the steal of the 2015 national draft after being selected by Fremantle with pick No.38.
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Sadly, he's the third former Docker to die in the past four years.
Balic booted three goals from four games in 2017 before being granted personal leave.
A homesick Balic was traded to Melbourne at the end of that season, but failed to play a game for the Demons and announced his retirement in August, 2018 after declaring that he'd lost his passion for the sport.
Balic had openly discussed his mental health battles in the past.
Former Dockers teammate Harley Bennell - who played with Balic for two seasons at the club - shared a photo of the pair together during their time at Fremantle.
“RIP my little HB … I’ll always love you little brother," Bennell captioned the Instagram post.
News of Balic's tragic passing has left the AFL community devastated, with social media inundated with tributes to the star and messages of support for his friends and family.
— Ryan Daniels (@FootyRhino) January 10, 2022
That is super sad news about Harley Balic. I remember reading an article about the mental health struggles he went through during and post his short AFL career :(
— Tim Rosen (@timrosen35) January 10, 2022
Rest In Peace, Harley Balic.
I sincerely hope he has found the inner peace he could not find on this planet.
My sincere condolences go out to his friends & family.
Please, everyone, a problem shared is a problem halved. Please don't suffer in silence.
You are all loved!!! https://t.co/UqWnbLrsnX
— Anthony Brady (@AJBrady_Sports) January 10, 2022
Saddened to hear of the passing of Harley Balic. A former Parkdale SC student and one of the most talented junior footballers I had the pleasure of witnessing. So athletic and agile and could run all day. Rest easy, Harley 💙
— Steph Chiocci (@Steph_Chiocci) January 10, 2022
What a blow to lose this brilliant and vital young man. He had a beautiful heart. https://t.co/gXJPMqyba3
— Paul Amy (@PaulAmy375) January 10, 2022
Harley Balic retired from AFL in 2018
Balic had been open about his mental health problems in the past, and said his "heart's not in it" anymore after announcing his retirement from the AFL in 2018.
"It was an easy decision in the end, as I've thought about it for a little while now," he revealed in 2018.
"It's something I'm not going to regret and I'm very appreciative to Melbourne for letting me come to the club for a second chance.
"I've always loved football, but my heart's not in it and everything ends up being a grind and I think it's just the right thing to do."
Fremantle have mourned the death of two other former players in recent years.
Former Dockers and Demons midfielder Colin Sylvia died in 2018 in a car crash, while ex-Fremantle forward Shane Yarran also died in 2018.
Bennell also posted a photo of himself with Balic and Yarran with the caption: "Rest easy my 2 brothers."
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