Brayden Smith, a multiple time Jeopardy champion who dominated the beloved game show during one of Alex Trebek’s final weeks as host, died suddenly in Las Vegas on Friday.
He was only 24 years old.
No cause of death has been announced.
“We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly,” his mother, Deborah Smith, Tweeted as confirmation of the awful news.
“We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on @jeopardy.”
Jeopardy! also released a statement amid news of Smith’s passing that read: “The JEOPARDY! family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith.
“He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden’s family. He will be missed.”
According to his obituary, Smith was a five-time Jeopardy! winner who loved to play saxophone and listen to musicians such as Duke Ellington and the Beach Boys.
He was praised on social media as “Alex’s Last Great Champion” and was looking forward to competing in the show’s Tournament of Champions.
The sleuth won five games in a row and more than $115,000 during his week on the show, which was filmed in October of 2020.
“I’m really grateful for everything, for all the opportunities that I had,” Smith said in a video the show posted to YouTube after the end of winning streak.
“I’m just glad that … I was able to show what I was capable of.”
Born in Henderson, Nevada, Smith graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in economics last year.
The late contestant also opened up about his impressive run on Jeopardy! in January, telling the program’s correspondent Sarah Whitcomb Foss, “It’s been a whirlwind” and adding:
“I just wanted to stay there as long as possible. It’s really a great feeling to be on set — to be around smart, nice, warm people.”
Smith said the “best part” of the experience was spending time with Trebek, who he described as “sort of a mainstay in my life.”
Concluded the 24-year old at the time:
“To finally be on stage with somebody that I’ve seen five nights a week every week for over a decade was really a dream come true,” Smith said.
Smith is survived by his parents, his three brothers and numerous relatives.
Donations in Smith’s memory may be made to the Brayden Smith Memorial Fund.
Trebek, who hosted the show since 1984, died November 8 at age 80 from pancreatic cancer.