The Brazilian big man was reportedly found dead in his own home, possibly suffering a heart attack while he was sleeping.
The seven-footer was a standout center for two years at Syracuse before being drafted by the Boston Celtics with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Melo played six games with Boston during his rookie year, but spent the majority of the season with the Maine Red Claws, putting up some big numbers for one stretch but he was eventually slowed by a concussion after walking into a doorway.
He was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the summer of 2013 but fell out of the NBA shortly thereafter. He played pro basketball in recent seasons in Puerto Rico and Brazil.
Reaction and condolences continue to stream in from players and coaches from all around the league in the aftermath of the unfortunate news, including from former Celtic teammate Paul Pierce.
“He was a really good kid, and it’s not fair that he will be defined by one thing: a 10-page paper,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told ESPN, referring to the 2012 season when Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament due to academics. “He worked his tail off to become a really good player and was a nice kid. We don’t know the cause yet. It’s so hard right now, so hard to believe. It’s a sad, sad day.”