Harley Balic, former Fremantle Dockers midfielder and All-Australian under-18s star who was seen as a hot pick at the 2015 draft, has died days after turning 25.
Nine’s Wide World of Sports reports that Balic passed away suddenly on Sunday morning, with police confirming a report is being prepared for the coroner and his death is not being treated as suspicious.
Balic was picked up by Fremantle in his draft year, played four games for the AFL team in the 2017 season, before being traded to the Melbourne Demons ahead of the 2018 season. He retired prematurely from football by the end of 2018, after losing his love for the game.
He had been vocal about his mental health issues in the past and found it to be “an easy decision” to step away from AFL at the age of 21.
“It’s something I’m not going to regret and I’m very appreciative to Melbourne for letting me come to the club for a second chance,” Balic told the Melbourne Demons media at the time.
“I’ve always loved football, but my heart’s not in it and everything ends up being a grind and I think it’s just the right thing to do.”
Tributes have flowed in from Balic’s former teammates and others across the footy world, sharing their memories of the young footballer.
Sad, Sad news about Harley Balic.— Mitch Robinson (@MitchRobinson05) January 10, 2022
Thoughts are with his close friends and family, only 25 taken too soon!
Saddened to hear of the passing of Harley Balic. A former Parkdale SC student and one of the most talented junior footballers I had the pleasure of witnessing. So athletic and agile and could run all day. Rest easy, Harley ????— Steph Chiocci (@Steph_Chiocci) January 10, 2022
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Ex-Freo player Harley Bennell posted up a photo on Instagram with Balic and former Docker Shane Yarran, who passed away in April 2018, captioned “Rest easy my 2 brothers.”
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