The late Alex Trebek's last Jeopardy! champ, Brayden Smith, has unexpectedly died at 24 in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nev.
His mom, Debbie Smith, shared the tragic news on Twitter on Friday, February 12. "We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly," she wrote. "We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on @jeopardy."
Hours after hearing of Smith's unexpected death, Jeopardy! shared their own statement on Twitter. "The 'Jeopardy!' family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith," the statement read. "He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden's family. He will be missed."
Smith was a champion competitor during Trebek's final episodes before the host died of pancreatic cancer last November. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate won five games in a row and over $115,000 during his week on the show, which was filmed last October.
According to his obituary, Smith was crowned as "Alex's Last Great Champion" on social media and "attained a lifelong dream" when he competed on the show.
"The best part of it for me was spending time with [Trebek]," Smith previously said in an interview following his winning streak. "Doing the questions and answers is almost incidental, I think, to spending time with somebody who I had cherished in my life for such a long period of time… I think back on it all the time and really savor each moment that I got to have with him."
Smith candidly added: "Every moment since I last was on the studio lot has been a moment that I’ve been wanting to get back on there."
"[Trebek] did, I believe, really like Brayden," Mike Richards, the executive producer of the game show, told EW. "I could tell that he very much enjoyed that young man, and that was fun to watch. I think that energized him."
Smith — who was hoping to attend law school to become an attorney for the federal government — led his school’s Quiz Bowl team to back-to-back state runner-up finishes, which fostered his love for Jeopardy!
Smith is survived by parents Scott and Debbie, and three brothers: Bryce, 26, Brock, 18, and Brody, 15.