Lauren Hill taught us more than how to shoot a lay-up

Let me start off by saying that I never met Lauren Hill. I haven’t seen anything more than the images on a computer or the video on the evening news. However, Lauren Hill is one of those people who you don’t need to meet in order for her to touch your heart and soul with her story.

Lauren Hill, a freshman basketball player at Mount Saint Joseph University (MSJ) in Cincinnati, passed away on Friday at the young age of 19 after an inspirational and courageous battle against Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare form of pediatric brain cancer that usually affects children between the ages of 4 and 9, according to The Cure Starts Now.

The point guard from Indiana received the grim diagnosis and prognosis in Nov. 2013, in the midst of her senior year at Lawrenceburg High School. Instead of bowing down and out to the terminal disease, she wanted to become the face of pediatric brain cancer and raise money for DIPG research, in an effort to find the cure, which could also cure all cancers.

Hill was given a two-year survival, which was later reduced to a little over a year, when doctors told her she wasn’t going to live to see Christmas of 2014. In that time features from ESPN, local media outlets, and publications from around the country were done about her.

Through all of this she was determined to fulfill her one dream: to play in a college basketball game.

With the media attention around her and her dreams the NCAA allowed MSJ to move its opening game up a few weeks to allow Hill to play in it. What they didn’t expect would be the amount of interest and attention surrounding the game. The game drew so much interest that it was moved from MSJ’s campus gym, which only seats 2,000, to Xavier University’s Cintas Center, which seats over 10,000. The game sold out within minutes.

The game itself was magical for Hill. Right after the tip-off, a bounce pass to her allowed the right-handed Hill to go up for the left-handed lay-up. At the time, the cancer had taken much of her abilities to shoot with her dominant hand. She made the lay-up, fulfilling her dream of not only playing, but scoring, in her first collegiate basketball game.

Hill would go on to play a total of four games, scoring 10 points, before retiring and being named an honorary coach. Despite not being on the court, Hill’s presence could be felt from MSJ to NKU, from Cincinnati to Florida. Her story gained national attention never seen before for this disease.

To say Hill fought is an understatement. She refuses to be remembered by losing her battle to DIPG, rather, she won and is gaining the rewards from her victory. She raised over $2 million dollars for pediatric cancer research, becoming an ambassador and a face for those struggling against the disease.

Hill never gave up. She fought and lived much longer than the doctors expected. She wasn’t expected to see Christmas. So what did she do? She lived to see Easter.That’s the kind of woman Hill is. I say ‘is’ because Hill may have passed physically, but spiritually, she will live on forever in the hearts of those who heard her story and lived her story.

Lauren Hill’s not only the face of pediatric cancer, but she’s the face of courage, inspiration and most importantly determination. Rest in peace, #22, Lauren Hill.