NFL

UCLA’s Jalen Hill, who was arrested with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley in China in 2017, announces retirement from basketball

Junior forward Jalen Hill, who left the UCLA men's basketball team midway through the 2020-21 season for personal reasons, has decided to step away from the sport for good.

Hill revealed his decision in a six-minute video posted to his Instagram account on Tuesday. He cited "a bunch of anxiety and depression problems" that date back to before his freshman season at UCLA, when he and teammates LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley were arrested for shoplifting during the team's preseason trip to China in 2017. 

“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 said he waited to make a public announcement because he didn't want to take anything away from the Bruins' surprising run to the Final Four. 

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UCLA forward Jalen Hill shoots a free throw during a January game against Oregon State. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)

A redshirt junior, the 6-foot-10 Hill missed UCLA's first two games this season because of tendinitis in his knee, then averaged 6.1 points and 5.5 rebounds in 15 games before deciding he "had to take a step back" when he left the team in early February. 

"It was hard for me to go back to the team when I was trying to go back to a past life when I was trying to live up to somebody’s expectations of me, trying to live up to somebody’s perception of how my life should be instead of just being who I am," he said.

But now that he's stepped away from the game, Hill said he's in a much better frame of mind and he's happy to share his experience with others who might be having problems with anxiety and depression.

"I know I made the right decision,” he said. "I'm done with basketball. I'm cool with saying that. I made my peace with it. Basketball has done a lot for me …

"I'm as happy as I've ever been."

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The American Psychiatric Association encourages anyone feeling severe symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts to contact a doctor immediately or seek help at the closest emergency room. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255) or via online chat.

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