Family gives update on ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Brayden Smith’s unexpected death
The update from Smith’s family came over the weekend, shortly after Smith’s mother, Debbie Smith, posted on Twitter that her 24-year-old son had ‘recently passed away unexpectedly’
No other information regarding Smith’s death has been revealed.
Smith was at a Southern Nevada hospital for days prior to his death on Feb. 5, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His death comes about three months after Trebek’s death and a month after his final “Jeopardy!” episode aired.
During his time on “Jeopardy!” the contestant brought visible joy to Trebek and drew comparisons to James Holzhauer with his ability to find the Daily Doubles and make bold wagers, the Deseret News previously reported. He won $115,798 during his five-game winning streak.
“He did not want a hoopla made about anything that he did,” Debbie Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. “He didn’t even want me telling anyone he was on ‘Jeopardy!’ — even after it was going to be shown on the air. He didn’t want me telling anybody, but I did anyway.”
Smith was looking forward to competing in the “Tournament of Champions.”
“These people are sort of my trivia idols and to know that I’m going to be on the same metaphorical and literal stage that they were on is really something special,” Smith said during a “Jeopardy!” interview. “‘Jeopardy!’” is so much better than anything I could’ve even imagined. Every moment since I last was on the studio lot has been a moment that I’ve been wanting to get back on there.
“I’m really grateful for everything, all the opportunities that I had,” he added. “I was glad that I was able to show what I was capable of.”
A 2020 graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Smith planned to attend law school and become an attorney for the federal government, according to his obituary. His family has since created a memorial fund in his name, dedicated to “furthering the educational aspirations of Southern Nevada students,” KLAS-TV reported.
Holzhauer has shared that he will match the first $10,000 in donations to the memorial fund.
Absolutely devastated by the tragic loss of one of Jeopardy’s finest players and Las Vegas’s finest humans.— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) February 13, 2021
Please consider a donation to Brayden’s memorial fund for Southern Nevada students. I will match the first $10,000.https://t.co/qjUKJXi8RY https://t.co/dE0reoR9CQ
Debbie Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that donations have been coming in from “all over the world.”
“It has been nonstop,” she said. “We just had no idea how far out Brayden’s run on ‘Jeopardy!’ went.”
A number of tributes have flooded social media following the news of Smith’s unexpected death.
I’m stunned to hear of Brayden Smith’s death. Brayden was an exemplary multiple #Jeopardy champion, 24 and about to go to law school. In our brief online interactions, he was kind and jovial. He had his whole life ahead. My ❤️ goes to the Smith family. #braydensmith#Jeopardy pic.twitter.com/Xhh8xMfDd7— Burt Thakur (@albertthakur) February 12, 2021
“The outpouring of love for Brayden is overwhelming,” his mother later posted on Twitter. “We can’t express how much your beautiful comments are comforting us during this painfully sad time. Thank you.”