Lauren Hill, a terminally ill college basketball player, died this past Friday. Hill has an unforgettable story that has touched the hearts of many. The 19-year-old college basketball player was remembered Monday in the arena where she scored the first four points of her career. It was the perfect place to remember her.
A year and a half ago, Hill was your everyday high school student preparing for college. She chose to play basketball at Division-III Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio. Soccer was her favorite sport, but she knew basketball is what she was meant to do.
A few weeks later, while playing for her high school team in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Hill began to experiences dizziness. She was immediately taken to the hospital where tests revealed a brain tumor.
She began treatment, but she was unresponsive to it. Hill was told in September that she only had a few months to live due to her inoperable brain tumor.
Hill began living her life to the absolute fullest, living everyday as fully as possible. She became dedicated to raising awareness about her condition and money for cancer research and treatment. Hill was determined to show others what it meant to treat each day as if it were their last.
“I’m spreading awareness and also teaching people how to live in the moment because the next moment’s not promised,” Hill said. “Anything can happen at any given moment. What matters is right now.”
Hill spent most of her time with her family raising money for cancer research, and going to college. Hill had one huge goal she wanted to accomplish, and that was scoring a basket in a game. She received a ton of support to help make her dream come true.
As Hill’s condition worsened, the NCAA agreed to let Mount St. Joseph move its opening game up two weeks against Hiram College. The game was played at Xavier University, a 10,000-seat arena, so more people could attend what would become an emotional and inspiring night. Tickets were sold out for the game in less than an hour.
The game was Nov. 2, and by that time Hill’s tumor had affected her right side so much that she had to shoot with her non-dominant hand. Only 17 seconds into the game, Hill received a pass and made a left-handed layup. The crowd erupted with applause and tears flooded the faces of many. Lauren’s teammates ran to center court to celebrate with her.
“I never thought I would play on a college court, put my feet on the floor and feel the vibration of the crowd, “ Hill said after the game, which they won 66-55. “This game has been amazing, and everything that happened today was amazing. This is a really good day.”
Former Tennessee women’s head coach Pat Summitt and numerous WNBA players were in the arena to witness the inspirational moment. Hill also made the last basket of the game.
Hill’s journey quickly took a rough turn. Her spreading tumor caused her to be sensitive to light, sound and movement. She could not sleep well at night and tired so quickly that she required the use of a wheelchair at times. Hill had her share of good days and bad days.
“We are forever grateful to have had Lauren grace our campus with her smile and determined spirit,” Mount St. Joseph President Tony Artez said. “She has left a powerful legacy. She taught us that every day is a blessing; every moment a gift.”
Hill was able to play in four more games before her spreading tumor forced her to give up playing, recording 10 total points. Her team even held their annual dinner at the end of the season in her hospital room where Hill was being treated.
Hill was so determined to raise money for cancer research with hopes that others will have a better chance at beating the disease in the future. The “Layup4Lauren” challenge and other fundraising activities brought in many donations around the world.
The Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award was given to Hill by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, an award that is usually given at the Final Four. Athletes from other colleges also autographed their No. 22 jerseys, her number and sent them in for support. Hill was always reminding everyone to appreciate life. News of Hill’s death sparked many reactions all over social medias worldwide.
Lauren Hill’s life was short, but Hill will never be forgotten. Hill brought communities and families together to support and help one girl to beat up on cancer. She never let people forget to appreciate each and every day spent on this earth.
She will be remembered for raising more than $1 million for research, to fight a disease she knew would kill her before a cure was found. The miracle of Hill’s illness is that it was gradual and allowed her time to realize her potential, allowing the rest of us realize just how precious life really is.