How 'Jeopardy!' Honored Brayden Smith, Young Champion Who Died in February

Jeopardy! has honored five-time champion Brayden Smith, who appeared on the program earlier this year as Alex Trebek's last great champion. Smith would have competed in the Tournament of Champions series had it not been for his untimely death. In tribute to Smith, the quiz show recently released a video of Jeopardy! guest host Buzzy Cohen remembering the 24-year-old player.

"You've now met all 15 of the player who qualified for the Tournament of Champions — well, almost all," Cohen says in the video. "Brayden Smith, the incredible young man who won five shows and $115,000 in January, passed away earlier this year. Brayden's family has established a fund in his name, and Jeopardy! will be donating to that fund. We want to express our best wishes and condolences to his family." The official Jeopardy! Twitter account captioned the video, "In loving memory of Brayden Smith."

Smith was hailed by Jeopardy! fans as Alex Trebek's last great champion, as he was the final contestant to go on a victory run during Trebek's long tenure. The five-game winning streak aired in December and January, just weeks ahead of Smith's death in February. Following Smith's death, Las Vegas CBS station KLAS reported that he died from complications from a surgery he underwent days before his death for an undisclosed condition. Citing family sources, the station reported that he spent time at a southern Nevada hospital prior to his death.

Smith — who was lovingly dubbed "Billy Buzzsaw" by Trebek — was looking forward to competing in the Tournament of Champions, according to his obituary in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Tournament of Champions has been my favorite tournament every year since I was a kid. These people are sort of my trivia idols and to know that I'm gonna be on the same metaphorical and literal stage that they were on is really something special," Smith said in a Jeopardy! interview posted on social media.

After winning more than $100,000 in prize money over his appearances on the show, he said that he greatly appreciated being a part of Trebek's final episodes ahead of his death last fall from pancreatic cancer. "To be around Alex, who you know has been sort of a mainstay in my life. To finally be on stage with somebody that I've seen five nights a week, every week for over a decade was really a dream come true," he said.


"Just in these last few months, I think back on it all the time, and really savor each moment that I got to have with him… just talking to him, person-to-person, was really great," he added. "Jeopardy! is so much better than anything I could even imagine. Every moment since I last was on the studio lot has been a moment that I've been wanting to get back on there."