Jalen Hill, former UCLA men's basketball player, dead at 22

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 went missing in Costa Rica and that the family recently learned of his death. He did not provide further details.

“Our hearts are shattered and completely broken to inform family and friends that our beloved son, Jalen has passed away,” George Hill wrote on Instagram. “Jalen went missing while in Costa Rica and we have recently learned of his passing.

“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.

“We realize that many will have questions but we are unable to share any details at this time. As we try to navigate this devastating time in our lives, we ask that you please give us time to grieve.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01: Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins during a game against the San Jose State Spartans at Pauley Pavilion on December 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. UCLA won 93-64. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Former UCLA men's basketball player Jalen Hill has died at age 22. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) (John McCoy via Getty Images)

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times later confirmed Hill’s death with his former coach at Corona California’s Centennial High School, Josh Giles.

"To hear something like this is next-level devastating," Giles told the Times.

Hill played two-plus seasons with UCLA from 2018-21. A 6-foot-10 forward, he averaged 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds in 70 games with the program. The team acknowledged Hill's death on its Twitter account late Tuesday night.

Hill last played for the Bruins in January 2021 before sitting out a Feb. 6 game against USC with the program citing personal reasons. He didn’t play for UCLA again and missed the team’s run to the Final Four that spring.

Hill announced that April in an Instagram video that he was retiring from basketball while citing anxiety and depression.

“I just had to distance myself because the headspace I was in, it was damaging the team,” Hill said in the video while congratulating his teammates on their Final Four run. “So I didn’t want to restrict them from achieving their goals too.”

Hill was one of three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China in 2017 alongside LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley. He was a freshman. All three players were suspended for the season. Hill returned in 2018 to play 33 games for the Bruins in the first of his two-plus active seasons. He cited the arrest as a source of his anxiety and depression in his April 2021 video.

“It started when I was arrested in China at 17. It was just a lot for me. I didn’t really want to open up or anything like that. It came up this past year and then this year — and then COVID happened and everything like that. It was just a lot for me. I had to step back.”

He added that when he took a step back, “it was a whole new life” and that “I never felt this happy before.”

Prior to joining UCLA, Hill was a four-star prospect at Centennial. He won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.