UCLA men’s basketball star player Jalen Hill was found dead in Costa Rica on Tuesday after going missing for a week beforehand, with his family and community left in mourning due to his sudden, unexpected death.

The 22-year-old basketball forward was part of the Bruins for over three seasons before he left the program and retired from basketball in February 2021 due to mental health issues related to anxiety and depression, according to USA Today.

“I just had to distance myself because the headspace I was in, it was damaging the team,” he said. “So I didn't want to restrict them from achieving their goals, too. The reason I left had nothing to do with the team or Cronin or coaches, nothing like that. Just so everybody can understand, it was me.”

During the three seasons that he played for the Bruins, he and two other players were arrested in China in November 2017 due to a shoplifting incident that ended with them being suspended from the team until the end of the season.

His family confirmed the death on Instagram on Tuesday night, saying that the former college basketball player had been missing for a week in Costa Rica before he was found dead due to reasons that have not been made public, the Daily Beast reported.

“We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people,” his family said in a tribute. “We also acknowledge the role that so many of you have played in his. 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.”

Many of his basketball coaches, including Bruins head coach Mick Cronin, have expressed shock at the sudden death of Hill, before paying tribute to his contribution to collegiate basketball as a whole.

“I’m so stunned I don’t even have an emotion right now,” his high school coach said. “To hear something like this is next-level devastating.”

“The news of Jalen Hill's passing is heartbreaking,” Cronin said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Jalen was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left us far too soon.”

Collegiate basketball star Jalen Hill was found dead in Costa Rica on Tuesday, with his family and the basketball community mourning his sudden death. Jason Miller/Getty Images.

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