18-year-old Olympic hopeful dead one month before the games

J.J. Rice was just 18 years old, but poised to represent his country on the Olympic stage in just a few short weeks.

According to reports, J.J., born in the United States, was set to join Tonga’s kitefoiler team at the Paris Olympics this summer. He would have been the first Caucasian to represent Tonga at the Olympics.

18-year-old Olympic Hopeful Dead One Month Before The Games

It was also the first year Kitefoiling is recognized as an Olympic sport.

Sadly, his father has confirmed that J.J. passed away on June 15 in a tragic diving incident.

As NBC News reports, J.J.’s father revealed that the teen was free diving off a boat in Faleloa when tragedy struck. It’s suspected that J.J.. suffered a “shallow water blackout.”

Those with J.J. attempted to revive the diver, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

In a Facebook post honoring her brother, J.J.’s sister Lily wrote, “I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the whole world and it pains me to say that he’s passed away.”

“He was an amazing kitefoiler and he would have made it to the Olympics and come out with a big shiny medal. He made so many amazing friends all over the world.”

She continued, saying her brother was good at everything he tried. “I don’t even know what to say; I don’t know what to do or what to think. I miss J.J. beyond belief. I’m in shock, I still cant believe it and it will take all of us who loved J.J. so long to feel ok again. J.J. was the most amazing, funny, unique person I’ve ever known and I’m going to miss everything about him he was so talented and was amazing at everything he tried.”

Despite being born in America to British-born parents, J.J. and Lily were raised in Ha’apai, where his family “operates a tourist lodge.”

Kite foilboarding is “a form of kiteboarding where instead of riding a board which planes on the water’s surface you are riding a board up to 1m above the waters surface.”