Lilly Kimbell, a college tennis star and a 2014 graduate of the University of Georgia, died of a massive heart attack at 31, shocking friends and family who knew her as a vibrant, loving 31-year-old woman.
According to Lilly’s family, the former tennis star collapsed at home and was rushed to the hospital while being given CPR. Once at the hospital, doctors determined she had a massive heart attack spurred by a kidney problem. Sadly, the lack of oxygen to her brain left her unable to regain consciousness. The family ultimately decided to remove her from life support, and she passed on Sunday, according to the Clayton News-Daily.
Former Georgia Bulldogs Tennis Player, Lilly Kimbell, Dies at 31, Sudden Cardiac Arrest 💔 pic.twitter.com/joReiziKsg
— TexasLindsay™ (@TexasLindsay_) February 8, 2023
“We were stunned and heartbroken to learn of Lilly passing away,” University of Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said in a statement. “I will always remember how she helped create a culture of excellence with her attitude and work ethic. Lilly was a fantastic teammate and was always smiling and laughing during practice and matches. She ranks as one of the most successful doubles players in Georgia tennis history. During the spring of her sophomore year, she went undefeated in doubles with Maho (Kowase), and their 22-match winning streak is still a school record. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”
Kimbell was one of the most successful tennis players in UGA history. She earned an amazing 197 victories – 109 in doubles and 88 in singles – and reached the NCAA Quarterfinals four times. She was also a member of the 2014 SEC championship-winning team. the News-Daily added, “As a senior, Kimbell went 30-8 in singles and was tabbed the ITA Regional Most improved Senior of the Year. As a freshman, Kimbell won the 2011 ITA Southeast Regional Doubles Championship with Chelsey Gullickson.”
With 22 wins, Kimbell also holds the record for the most consecutive doubles wins in a season. She ranks fourth in career doubles (109-31) and, in 2012, earned the record of seventh in doubles wins in a single season (32-5).
Kimbell’s sister, Samantha Gillas, said she and the family were shocked by the loss.
“Yesterday heaven gained another angel,” Gillas wrote in a Facebook post. “I really don’t know what to say. I am lost for words and in complete shock, but at the same time I have so much I could say. It all seems so surreal and I’m just waiting to wake up from this bad dream and I’ll see you coming downstairs.”
“Besides what you did on the court I looked up to you as a person. You had this ability to make everyone smile. Whenever we walked into the room you would be surrounded by people laughing and smiling. Everyone seemed to gravitate towards you,” Gillas remembered fondly.
“I’m still trying to process why God had this happen to you at 31 years old. I shouldn’t had to say goodbye to my sister at 22 years old. I love you so much Lilly. I know you’re looking down at us watching over. You were so talented and loved by so many.”
Tributes poured in on Twitter:
So heartbroken to hear of the passing of former bulldog Lilly Kimbell. One of the kindest people on campus. Praying for her family and friends today.
— Christian Robinson (@crob45) February 6, 2023
So sorry to hear of the passing of former @UGAWomensTennis player Lilly Kimbell at the age of 31. She was an integral part of 4 NCAA tourney teams for Georgia. A junior tennis star from Texas, Kimbrell remained in the game as a coach before succumbing to a recent illness.
— Chip Towers AJC (@ctowersajc) February 7, 2023
Lilly was one of the all-time fun student-athletes to be around. Always smiling and a tough competitor. Thoughts and prayers with the Kimbell Family. https://t.co/i2dABivsy6
— John Bateman (@mayorofmilledge) February 7, 2023
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of former Georgia student-athlete Lilly Kimbell.
📰: https://t.co/zBXcNHpL2y pic.twitter.com/w2JyhqwdG3
— Georgia Women’s Tennis (@UGAWomensTennis) February 7, 2023