The Heartbreaking Death Of 24-Year-Old Jeopardy! Champ Brayden Smith

The 24-year-old Jeopardy! champion Brayden Smith, also known as "Alex's Last Great Champion," died recently (via USA Today). While the cause is unknown, Smith's mother tweeted on Friday, February 13 that her son "recently passed away unexpectedly." She added that she and her family are "heartbroken" but "so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream of being on @jeopardy."

The reason he was known as "Alex's Last Great Champion" is that he was part of some of the last Jeopardy! episodes that Alex Trebek hosted before his death in November of 2020 (via TODAY). Smith was a huge fan of Trebek and said of the host, "Everybody knows that he (was) ailing. 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."

"He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant," Jeopardy! says of Brayden Smith

During his impressive journey on Jeopardy!, Smith collected a whopping five-game winning streak, winning a total of $116,000 (via WPRI). Trebek even pointed out in one episode that Smith hadn't "missed any of the Daily Doubles [he'd] uncovered," which he had found all of in the games in which he competed. "Every moment I was there, as I moved from the third lectern into the champion's lectern, I just wanted to stay there as long as possible," he said of his time on the game show.

Beyond his moments on the small screen, Smith graduated from the University of Nevada last year and had planned on attending law school (via the Las Vegas Review-Journal). His obituary described him as an incredibly passionate individual as well as a "voracious reader and autodidact, a lover of knowledge and an advocate for justice. His room was bursting with books on political science, philosophy, economics, and history." He left behind his three brothers.

One Twitter user wrote to Smith's mother, "It was clear that your boy touched Alex's heart. So many people loved Brayden's run on #Jeopardy, myself included. He was charming, funny, quirky, brilliant & fun. My heart aches for you & your family. I wish you all peace, comfort & light thru the darkness."