Back in February, we reported that five-time “Jeopardy!” champion Brayden Smith had tragically passed away at the age of 24. During the Tou rnament of Champions this week, which Smith would have competed in had he not died, “Jeopardy!” made sure to pay tribute to the late brilliant young man.
“You’ve now met all 15 of the players who qualified for the Tournament of Champions. Well, almost all,” said guest host Buzzy Cohen as he included Smith in the tournament’s introduction on Friday.
“Brayden Smith, the incredible young man who won five shows and $115,000 in January, passed away earlier this year,” Cohen continued while clips of the late contestant played onscreen. “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.”
In loving memory of Brayden Smith. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/a7CZaH31IJ
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) May 21, 2021
Smith’s mother Debbie released a statement of her own after the game show paid tribute to her son.
“Our family is deeply touched by @Jeopardy’s ToC tribute to Brayden and its pledge to support the Brayden Smith Memorial Fund,” she said, according to Fox News. “What a formidable group of Champs. Brayden would feel honored to be counted among you.”
Smith died in February after experiencing surgical complications, according to his obituary from The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Just a few weeks before his death, Smith competed in multiple episodes of “Jeopardy!” and won $115,000, with his shows airing in January.
“Brayden attained a lifelong dream as a five-time champion on the popular ‘Jeopardy!’ television game show,” Smith’s obituary stated. “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.”
“Brayden loved classic and not-so-classic movies,” his obituary said. “He could be explaining the symbolism in Citizen Kane one moment and the comedic timing in Dumb And Dumber the next. 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.”
“I’m really grateful for everything, all the opportunities that I had,” Smith said after his “Jeopardy!” streak ended, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I was glad that I was able to show what I was capable of.”