by VERNA GIBSON
In her senior year of high school, basketball phenom Lauren Hill began feeling dizzy while playing for her school’s team. After going through medical tests, doctors found a tumor and Hill was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, DIPG, a brain cancer usually found in children aged 4 to 9, 49 days after her 18th birthday. After treatment failed, Hill knew her condition was terminal.
Despite the circumstances, Hill didn’t let her illness hold her back and went to college at Mount Saint Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She spent her time continuing her athletic career and attending classes all while raising awareness about her illness.
“I never gave up for a second, even when I got a terminal diagnosis… I never thought about sitting back and not living life anymore,” Hill told the Local 12 station in Cincinnati.
One of Hill’s biggest goals was to score a basket in a college basketball game. Her university as well as the NCAA came together to make this a reality. Mount Saint Joseph’s athletic conference in charge of scheduling games pushed up the university’s season opener as Hill’s condition began to worsen. Xavier University even offered up their basketball area so more people could attend the game. Hill not only managed to score in the game but also hit the game winning shot.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association awarded Hill with the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award. Hill’s foundation,The Cure Starts Now, raised $1.5 million for DIPG. Hill said she felt it was her responsibility to raise awareness about her disease.
“The two biggest thing we wanted to accomplish is team and team chemistry, and Lauren helped us do that. But along the way she’s made a lot of our girls become very mature, which is apparent. That’s what you always want to do. You want your kids to understand what life’s about,” Mount Saint Joseph coach, Dan Benjamin said to USATODAY.
Hill touched many including LeBron James and Devon Still, whose daughter also battled cancer. In response to the news of her death, James tweeted a letter to Hill.
Still also shared his feelings regarding Hill’s courageous fight on Instagram.
"When you die it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you leave." Lauren never let this terrible disease define her. She didn't let it control whether she lived out her dream of playing college ball and she fought to live pass what doctors originally told her she would. Lauren left her mark on this world by showing people what it really meant to NEVER GIVE UP. So would I say she lost her battle with cancer? Hell no! Because of her fight and selfless act of using her fight to raise an incredible amount of money and awareness, doctors will one day find a cure for DIPG! It hurt like hell seeing the news this morning and i'm not even sure how I'm going to tell my daughter. In the past two weeks, two kids that I have met and developed relationships with have passed from cancer smh something's got to give its not right #For22 #LaurenStrong
According to TMZ, Still plans to work with Hill’s charity to continue raising money and awareness about pediatric cancer. The reaction to Hill’s death has been widespread.