Eric Zaun is the professional volleyball player who died after jumping out of a hotel window in Atlantic City. Police say Zaun seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of the window of the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa on Tuesday, June 11. His body was found in the hotel parking lot on Tuesday evening, according to the Atlantic City Police Department.
Police initially identified the body found in the parking lot only as belonging to a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. At the same time, volleyball organizations announced the passing of Eric Zaun. Police confirmed on June 12 that the body found in the parking lot of the Borgata hotel was, in fact, the body of Eric Zaun.
The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour expressed its condolences in a post on Instagram, writing, “The AVP is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Eric Zaun. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. He will be deeply missed.”
Here’s what you need to know about Eric Zaun:
1. His Last Instagram Post Said ‘June Is Going to Be a Good Month’
Eric Zaun was a rising star in the world of volleyball. The 25 year old from New Jersey was named the AVP’s rookie of the year in 2017. That’s the year that Zaun graduated from Limestone College in South Carolina, where he was a key player on the men’s indoor volleyball team.
Zaun’s last Instagram post, which he put up on June 4, featured a photo of himself playing beach volleyball. It’s a triumphant moment, with Zaun hitting the ball in a high arc towards the net. Zaun captioned the post, “June is going to be a good month.” The volleyball player had 15.5 thousand followers on Instagram.
On Tuesday, June 11 — just a week after he put up the post — police say Zaun committed suicide by jumping out of the window of the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Police initially told the media that the body belonged to a man from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. On June 13, the police department confirmed that the body belonged to Eric Zaun.
2. Zaun Dreamed of Traveling the World & Sharing His Love of Volleyball with the Less Fortunate
Tributes to Eric Zaun poured in on social media after the 25 year old was found dead. Professional volleyball associations mourned the death of the rising star, and his colleagues shared fond memories of their time with Zaun. Olympic player Maria Elisa Antonelli wrote a post on Zaun’s Instagram page reminiscing about meeting with him in Brazil. She said, “practice with you this year in Brazil one time and I spent 2 months see you practicing and smiling for us. Good guy, friendly, polite … hope you are in peace.”
Another volleyball star, Christian Honer, wrote that Zaun had dreamed of spreading his love for volleyball around the world. He said, “So much love for you my brother! Will never forget the scams we discussed and when you mentioned you wanted to go travel and share the love of volleyball with the less fortunate. What an incredible human! You’ll be dearly missed!”
Others took to Instagram to talk about the importance of mental health awareness. Elle Wilson wrote, “Mental health is such a serious issue. Especially in men it’s hard to speak up. Condolences to all who knew him and loved him. Don’t be afraid to get help if it feels like more than just an “off” or a “sad” day. Reach out to your friends that are struggling or even seem ok that you haven’t spoken with in a bit. Help destigmatize mental illness so it’s not as hard to reach out for fear of ridicule. Sorry for my rant this is becoming all too common.”
3. Zaun Was So Dedicated to Volleyball that He Drove Across Country & Lived in His Van for Months So He Could Compete in Professional Beach Volleyball
In 2016, Zaun loaded up his possessions in a van and moved from New Jersey to Southern California. He was dreaming of making it as a pro in beach volleyball. But Zaun didn’t just travel across the country in a van — he lived in the van for months while competing in beach volleyball. Living out of his Sprint van meant that Zaun didn’t have to pay rent, and didn’t need to work a day job; he was able to dedicate himself to volleyball full time.
In a 2016 interview, Zaun talked about his love for beach volleyball and his dedication to the sport. He said that not only did he love the competition, but he also love the culture and the lifestyle of the sport — he also said he loved the people he met while playing the game, and the ability to travel around the world while playing the sport.
“I love the culture and the lifestyle associated with beach volleyball,” Zaun said. “It’s great to be able to travel around the country to different beaches and locations doing what you love. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people in the sport and a lot of great fans. All the people involved make it awesome.”
4. Zaun Started Playing Volleyball in High School & Also Competed in Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, & Swimming
Zaun grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He attended Cherry Hill East High School, where he was an athlete competing in many sports. He competed in baseball, soccer, basketball, and swimming. In his junior year, though, he left his other sports in order to concentrate on volleyball. Zaun said that volleyball appealed to him more than any other sport.
“I wanted to be really good,” Zaun said. “I had goals in volleyball that I really didn’t have in the other sports that I was playing.
“Volleyball was something different. I liked the culture of the sport, and I’ve met so many great people. We were in high school playing in leagues with 30-year-olds who would treat us as equals and help improve our game.”
5. Zaun Played for USA Volleyball’s Snow Team
Zaun competed in beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, and snow volleyball. He started competing in beach volleyball in 2014, and was named Rookie of the Year in 2014 that year. He also became the youngest player to win an NVL championship in 2014.
In 2017, Zaun joined the AVP tour, where he was named Rookie of the Year. The AVP issued a statement about Zaun’s passing, writing, “The AVP is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Eric Zaun. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. He will be deeply missed.”
US Volleyball, the National Governing Body for the sport of volleyball in the United States, issued a statement after Zaun’s death. “This is a huge loss for the entire volleyball community,” said USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis. “Eric was a talented young beach player and stepped up this spring to play snow volleyball for the U.S. He will be missed.”