'Jeopardy!' champion Brayden Smith dies 'unexpectedly' at 24 years old

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Rheana Murray
·3 min read
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A young "Jeopardy!" winner known as "Alex's Last Great Champion" to fans online has died at age 24.

Brayden Smith "recently passed away unexpectedly," his mother, Debbie Smith, wrote on Twitter Friday.

"We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream of being on @jeopardy," she wrote.

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The show shared the news with its own message about the young star.

"The 'Jeopardy!' family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith," a tweet from the show's official account read. "He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden's family. He will be missed."

Smith appeared in some of Alex Trebek's final episodes before the famed host died in November 2020, and it was clear Trebek enjoyed witnessing Smith's success as much as viewers did.

Dozens of heartbroken fans commented on social media about the obvious chemistry they observed between Smith and Trebek and how much fun it was to watch Smith compete.

"It was clear your boy touched Alex's heart," one fan wrote on Twitter to Smith's mother. "So many people loved Brayden's run on 'Jeopardy!,' myself included. He was charming, funny, quirky, brilliant and fun."

In a video "Jeopardy!" shared on YouTube last month, Smith talked about Trebek's legacy.

"Everybody knows that he (was) ailing," he said. "To put on a brave face and go out there every day and continue to give America and the world some good cheer, especially this year, was really a testament to how great of a person he was."

Smith, who was born in Henderson, Nevada, died Feb. 5 in Las Vegas, according to his obituary. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, last year and was planning to go to law school. Appearing on "Jeopardy!" was his "lifelong dream" and he had been looking forward to competing in the show's Tournament of Champions. He loved movies and sports and played the saxophone. He leaves behind his parents and three brothers.

Smith's five-game winning streak came to an end just last month. In the video the show shared, Smith also talked about how excited he was to get back on the stage.

"'Jeopardy!' is so much better than anything that I could even have imagined," he said. "Every moment since I last was on the studio lot has been a moment that I've been wanting to get back on there. Tournament of Champions was my favorite tournament every year since I was a kid. 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."