Former Docker and Peel Thunder star Harley Balic dies aged 25

LEGEND: Harley Balic was loved and celebrated by the AFL community. Photo: MIchael Willson/AFL media.

LEGEND: Harley Balic was loved and celebrated by the AFL community. Photo: MIchael Willson/AFL media.

Tributes have begun pouring out for ex-AFL player Harley Balic, who passed away on Sunday, January 9, at the age of 25.

Balic, who celebrated his birthday last Wednesday, was a well-loved player and was drafted for the Fremantle Dockers in 2015.

In 2016, Balic was part of the winning premiership team for Peel Thunder.

Balic was traded from Fremantle to Melbourne in 2017 after announcing he felt "homesick", and throughout this time had been an advocate who was open about the mental health struggles he experienced.

His first year with the Dockers hadn't gone to plan, with a wrist injury keeping him off the field the entire season, but he persisted - recovering to play an impressive four games.

"I played a couple of games which I was happy with but then it sort of just got a bit much in terms of how I was feeling," he told the Melbourne Football Club in an interview at the time.

BROTHERHOOD: Former Docker star Harley Bennell pays tribute to Harley Balic, who he said was like a little brother. Photo: Harley Bennell/Instagram.

BROTHERHOOD: Former Docker star Harley Bennell pays tribute to Harley Balic, who he said was like a little brother. Photo: Harley Bennell/Instagram.

"I thought I would come back and regather myself and hopefully get another contract here sort of where I know I'd thrive and really enjoy my footy."

Balic announced his retirement from the game in 2018, citing that his heart was no longer in it, but he continued to be a beloved figure within the community and among his peers.

Ex-Docker Harley Bennell, who had played alongside Balic, took to Instagram to express his love and condolences.

"RIP my little HB," Bennell wrote.

"I'll always love you little brother."

AFL's chief photographer Michael Willson also paid tribute to Balic, posting a pensive and powerful photo he had taken of him with the caption 'RIP Harley Basic'.

The tributes continue to pour in with the entire AFL community mourning the great loss.

Balic's death is not being treated as suspicious.

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