Jack Hatton, a judo athlete competing for a spot on the U.S. team in the 2020 Summer Olympics, died at the age of 24, USA Judo announced Wednesday.
Hatton died on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post, just four days after his birthday. No cause of death has been announced. USA Judo announced the news in a post on Facebook, saying Hatton “made an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that USA Judo announces the unexpected passing of USA Judo national team member, Jack Hatton,” the statement began. “We extend our sincere condolences to the Hatton Family, and Jack’s teammates, coaches and friends.
"Jack was one of America’s top judo players and was a multi-time medalist for USA Judo in various competitions across the globe. Jack made an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of knowing him, and he will not be forgotten.”
Hatton was remembered fondly by his coach, Jimmy Pedro, who trained Hatton at his facility in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
“He loved the sport, and I didn’t know anyone who didn’t love Jack,” Pedro told the Post. “He was a kind soul, a good person.”
While there has been no confirmation about how Hatton died, Pedro suggested the young athlete had struggled with mental health issues.
“We’re devastated over this because Jack was eight months away from making his first Olympic team,” he said. “He was in position to go to the Games, a dream of his. He seemed happy, with no signs of depression. But one of the last searches on his phone was looking for mental health (assistance). He was seeking help. We just had no idea.”
Pedro also said he and Hatton’s father have spoken about the possibility of donating Hatton’s brain to study.
“He suffered a few concussions when he was 21 or 22 that are documented, but he was treated and went through concussion protocol,” he said.
Hatton recently competed at the world championships in Tokyo, but did not place. He also finished fifth at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, last month.
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Hatton was born into a judo family. His father and brother were both black belts in the sport, according to Hatton’s Facebook page.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, anytime.