USA Judo Star and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Hopeful Jack Hatton Suddenly Dead at 24

Judo athlete Jack Hatton has died suddenly at age 24, with the USA judo team announcing his passing on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

"It is with extremely heavy hearts that USA Judo announces the unexpected passing of USA Judo national team member, Jack Hatton," the team wrote on its website. "We extend our sincere condolences to the Hatton Family, and Jack's teammates, coaches and friends."

"Jack was one of America's top judo players and was a multi-time medalist for USA Judo in various competitions across the globe. Jack made an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of knowing him, and he will not be forgotten," the message continued. "We grieve with the entire USA Judo and international judo community during this tough time. USA Judo is in the process of providing grief counseling services for those in need and will share information on services for Jack as they become available."

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Hatton was one of the team's top members and was working towards his goal of becoming a member of the 2020 Olympic Team. His Facebook page shares that he began judo at age 5 after being inspired by his dad and brother. He trained at the Jason Morris Judo Center and San Jose State University before moving to Pedro's Judo Center in Wakefield, Massachusetts, where he has been coached by two-time Olympic Medalist Jimmy Pedro.

Hatton earned his way to the Jr. World Championships, won the Jr. US Open three years in a row and medaled at the Sr. Nationals at age 17, beginning to train with Pedro after his juniors career. In his first year as a senior he won the Nationals and El Salvador World Cup and has since placed first at the Quebec Open, Argentina World Cup and Chile World Cup and won several national level competitions. He is a two-time Grand Prix Medalist and helped the 2016 Olympic Team prepare for the games.

"It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the untimely passing of one of our students, teammates, brothers, and friends, Jack Hatton," Pedro wrote on Instagram. "Jack has been a member of Pedro's Judo Center since 2015 and pursuing his dream of becoming a member of the 2020 Olympic Team. Along with being a top US Judo athlete, Jack was kind-hearted, caring and an all-around great person. He was a true role model for students at our dojo and judoka all over the country. He will be deeply missed by all of us at Pedro's Judo Center and the rest of the judo world."

Pedro also included the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and encourage those struggling with depression or their mental health to seek help.

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Photo Credit: Getty / Kiyoshi Ota