On Sunday, Nov. 2, Lauren Hill will play in her first and final collegiate basketball game.
As a standout high school basketball star, on her 18th birthday, Lauren said she wanted to “do something memorable.” So, she called the Mount St. Joseph University coaching staff, and officially committed.
While she was happy with her decision, Hill began having problems both on and off the court.
Just 49 days after her 18th birthday, an MRI revealed a brain tumor. Hill was diagnosed with DIPG, a cancer in the brainstem that is inoperable. Most of those affected are children, and the cancer has a zero percent survival rate.
When Hill was diagnosed, all she wanted to know was if she could still play basketball. And play she did. Through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Hill made it through her senior season at Lawrenceburg High School and to Mt. St. Joseph.
Hill exemplifies, in every sense of the words, a fighter and an athlete. Her motto from the beginning has been “Never Give Up!” When I first saw her story, I cried uncontrollably. I also felt guilt.
I have had the chance to play college basketball. And while I loved the game, my teammates and my coaches, there were times I knew I took it for granted.
I didn’t want to go to practice. I didn’t really want to run that extra suicide.
Now, all I can think about is Lauren, and what she would give to be able to run that extra sprint or spend an extra hour on the court.
To say that Lauren’s perseverance is inspiring is an understatement. Lauren has made me truly appreciate the life and the opportunities I have been given. When she was diagnosed, from the beginning, she only thought about others.
She even started a foundation called Layup 4 Lauren (layup4lauren.org) to benefit those affected with DIPG. 1more4lauren.com is also working to promote the cause.
In September, Lauren underwent another MRI. Doctors said her tumor had grown and she wouldn’t live to see the New Year.
The NCAA and Hiram agreed to move the Mt. St. Joseph’s first game up two weeks and to hold the contest in Cincinnati. The game was moved to Xavier University and sold out quicker than the Cavs home opener.
Making it to the opening tip might be the hardest challenge Lauren has ever faced, but she accepts the challenge head on.
“I still love the bouncing of the balls and the squeaking of the shoes and people working hard and fighting,” Lauren told WKRC Cincinnati. “And I just can’t wait to be standing on this court, in a basketball uniform, with the No. 22.”
Good luck to Lauren in her final game. As an athlete and a person, she deserves so many more.