Former Centennial High School and UCLA basketball player, Jalen Hill, has died after going missing in Costa Rica. Valley News/UCLA Athletics courtesy photo

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Former UCLA power forward and center Jalen Hill
has died after going missing in Costa Rica, his family announced. He was 22.

In an Instagram post, Hill’s family wrote they were unable to share
any details surrounding his death.

“We know Jalen has played a part in the lives of so many people,”
the family wrote Tuesday. “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.”

Hill was a star at Centennial High School in Corona, leading the
Huskies to the CIF Southern Section Regional Division I championship game as
senior in 2017. He was ranked as the No. 47 player nationally in his high
school class by ESPN.com.

“I’m so stunned I don’t even have an emotion right now,” Josh Giles,
Hill’s coach at Corona Centennial told the Los Angeles Times. “To hear
something like this is next-level devastating.”

Bruins coach Mick Cronin called Hill’s death heartbreaking.

“Jalen was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left
us far too soon,” Cronin said in a statement.

The 6-foot-10 Hill played 77 games over three seasons for UCLA,
starting 40 games, averaging 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Hill played his last game for the Bruins on Jan. 30, 2021, going
scoreless in 11 minutes against Oregon State. The team announced the following
week that he was sitting out a game against USC for personal reasons.

Hill later said the reason why he never came back to play was due to
anxiety and depression after putting excessive pressure on himself to succeed.

“It was a tough decision to make, but once I knew what I had to do,
it wasn’t hard, like I figured out, like, this is going to help me,” Hill said in a 2021 interview.

Hill was among three UCLA freshmen arrested for shoplifting when the
Bruins were in Hangzhou, China to open the 2017-18 season and remained at the
team’s hotel until their case could be resolved. Hill, LiAngelo Ball and Cody
Riley publicly apologized upon their return to campus and thanked everyone
involved in helping to resolve the case so they could return home, including
then-President Donald Trump.

Hill called his actions “stupid.”

There’s just no other way to put it,” he said. “And I’m not that
type of person. I hope that this mistake will not define me as a person, but it
shows that I have messed up and can learn from it. I don’t want to be known for
this dumb mistake. I want to be known for my respectfulness and my love and
passion for the game of basketball. This event has changed me in a way I can’t
explain.”

The three players were initially suspended indefinitely from the team
while they went through the university’s disciplinary review process. Ball
withdrew from school before the review was completed. Hill and Riley remained
suspended through the remainder of the season.

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