Brayden Smith, who just last month was featured in a special Jeopardy! video tribute to the late Alex Trebek, died unexpectedly Feb. 5 in Las Vegas. He was 24.
His death was announced today by his mother Debbie Smith. A cause of death was not disclosed.
“We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly,” Debbie Smith wrote on Twitter. “We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on @jeopardy.”
The show offered condolences in a tweet: “The Jeopardy! family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith. He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden’s family. He will be missed.”
Smith’s five-game winning streak, in which he won more than $115,000, was taped in October but aired in December. Trebek, who had dubbed the quick-moving Smith as “Billy Buzzsaw,” died Nov. 8.
“Brayden attained a lifelong dream as a five-time champion on the popular Jeopardy! television game show,” his family-written obituary notes. “His appearances were among the last hosted by Alex Trebek, and Brayden was hailed on social media as ‘Alex’s Last Great Champion.’ He was looking forward to competing in the show’s Tournament of Champions.”
A 2020 graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in economics, Smith planned to attend law school and become an attorney for the federal government. He recently served as an intern with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., where he researched criminal justice reform issues.
“He could be explaining the symbolism in Citizen Kane one moment and the comedic timing in Dumb and Dumber the next,” his obituary notes. “He played the saxophone and enjoyed listening to a variety of music, from Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and Miles Davis to the Beach Boys, Steely Dan, and Toto. He was an avid sports fan, cheering on the Detroit Tigers and Vegas Golden Knights.”
In the taped Jeopardy! tribute to Trebek – watch it below – Smith said his favorite part of being a contestant “was spending time with” Trebek. “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. 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, even outside answering the questions.”
Smith is survived by parents Scott and Deborah Smith, brothers Bryce, Brock and Brody, among other relatives.
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