Lauren Hill has been given months to live following her diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor, but this hasn’t stopped her from fulfilling her dream of playing collegiate basketball. She was a healthy senior at Lawrenceburg High School in Indiana in October of 2013. Now she is a 19-year old dying of brain cancer as she was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) about a year ago. She was given no more than two years to live, but she wasn’t scared. She just wanted to know if she could play basketball….and she did by finishing her senior season at Lawrenceburg.
Now as a freshman at Division III Mount St. Joseph’s, Hill fulfilled her dream by scoring the game’s opening basket and final basket with 26 seconds remaining in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,000 plus at Xavier University’s Cintas Center in Cincinnati. Mount St. Joseph’s would go on to defeat Hiram College 66-55. The NCAA allowed the game to be moved up due to Hill’s condition.
“This game was amazing,” Hill said. “It was awesome in every way. It’s a dream come true. To play on a college court, to put my foot down on the floor and hear the roar of the crowd — I just love it so much. I love basketball.”
Her health condition forced her to wear sunglasses and headphones on the bench due to sensitivities and it affects her coordination as well. This has forced her to shoot left-handed, but the final basket she scored was with her right hand.
Both shots were greeted with standing ovations and she has received support all across the country. One of the many who showed support was Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, whose four-year old daughter is currently battling cancer. During their game against Jacksonville on Sunday, the Bengals showed video of her lay-up and Still was seen wearing Hill’s name on his eye black.
The Cure Starts Now Foundation raised over $40,000 from the event and Hill also met with some children battling cancer during pre-game warm-ups which helped in raising their spirits. One little girl from Cincinnati gave Hill a headband with the word “Believe” on it.
Hill’s health is rapidly declining and her first game will end up being her last game, but she reportedly felt good enough after the game to play in another. Lauren has also issued a challenge to everybody called #LayUp4Lauren that will help the Cure Starts Now Foundation raise money and awareness. It’s similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in which one needs to spin around 5 times and complete a lay-up with their non-dominant hand since Lauren battles dizziness and lack of coordination in her dominant hand. If it is made then it is passed along. If not, $10 must be donated.
Joey Korman operates his own blog and writes for Sports Mockery, a Chicago-based sports media outlet. He is an avid sports fan and is always on the look-out for inspirational stories in sports.