Another tragedy has struck a family out of the blue. Lilly Kimbell, a 2014 graduate of UGA who was a star women’s tennis player as a college student, has passed away at the age of just 31. She passed away this past Sunday.
According to a post on Facebook from her family, Kimbell died of a heart attack. They said that the heart attack was the result of kidney issues. Both her family members and emergency personnel attempted to save her life with CPR, but she had been without oxygen for an extended period by the time she was taken to the hospital. There, her shocked and grieving family had to make the decision to take her off of life support. In that post, her sister said:
Yesterday heaven gained another angel. My sister Lilly passed away. She had some kidney issue we don’t know how it happened but ended up with a massive heart attack. Her brain was without oxygen for too long and we had to let her go yesterday. 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.
I’ve looked up to you my whole life. You were so talented and loved by so many. When people asked me who my favorite tennis player was my answer was always you. I was so proud of you and your accomplishments. I would always brag I’m “Lilly Kimbell’s little sister”. That’s what a lot of people knew me by hahah.
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. You were the most popular person but never acted as if you were too good for anyone. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of. Everyone wanted to be your friend. You would do anything for your friends and family. I just hope your at peace now with everyone else up in heaven.
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. I promise we will try to be better people in your honor. Callie girl misses you and we promise to take good care of her for you Lilly Fern
UGA’s head women’s tennis coach, Jeff Wallace, spoke about Kimbell after news of her passing broke. According to the Clayton News-Daily, he said:
“We were stunned and heartbroken to learn of Lilly passing away,” said Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace. “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.”
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
The Red And Black, a UGA paper, commented on Kimbell’s time as a tennis star for the team, saying “Kimbell’s time at Georgia cemented her status as one of the greatest athletes in the history of the program. In four years with the Bulldogs, she recorded 197 wins — 109 doubles and 88 singles. She advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals four times during her tenure, and she was part of the 2014 team that claimed the SEC championship.”
Continuing, the same report added that “Kimbell won the 2011 ITA Southeast Regional Doubles Championship with Chelsey Gullickson in her first collegiate season. In her second season, she set the record for most consecutive doubles wins in a season, registering 22 wins in a row with Maho Kowase in 2012.”
While a student-athlete at UGA, Kimbell earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Science. She then stuck around for a Master’s degree and got on in Sport Management. She earned that degree in 2016 while working for UGA’s athletic department.
The Clayton News-Daily reports that, after her graduation from the Master’s program, she went on to work “as an assistant tennis coach at Eastern Illinois, as well as, St. Mary’s in San Antonio. She also worked for the Addison Group, Supreme Lending and Paycom – all headquartered in the Dallas area.”
Featured Image credit: screenshot from embedded tweet
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