Early today, Lauren Hill, the college basketball player whose valiant fight against brain cancer touched us all, died at age 19.
The Indiana native's story spread like wildfire around the world last year when she was able to realize her dream of playing college basketball. Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati petitioned the NCAA to move up the opening game of its schedule so that she could play.
Hill was diagnosed during her senior year of high school in 2013. Undeterred, she continued playing her favorite sport amidst rounds of chemotherapy for her inoperable tumor. She had already signed up to play at Mount St. Joseph — and she kept her word.
With 10,000 fans cheering her name from the stands, Hill made a layup at the game against Hiram College in November of last year.
She made another basket to end the game, and would go on to play in four games total. She ended her career with 10 points.
Even though she knew it was too late for her, Hill made it her mission to raise awareness about her cancer (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG), find a cure, and inspire kids suffering from it — and everyone, really — to find hope in her example and live their lives to the fullest.
In December, she reached her goal of raising $1 million for cancer research with the nonprofit group The Cure Starts Now as part of the #Layup4Lauren campaign. For the challenge, she asked people to spin five times and try to shoot a layup to simulate how she felt playing because of her cancer.
Mount St. Joseph University President Tony Artez said in a statement, "We are forever grateful to have had Lauren grace our campus with her smile and determined spirit. She has left a powerful legacy. She taught us that every day is a blessing, every moment a gift."
As news of her death spread, social media lit up with messages honoring her life — even a rather lengthy one from NBA legend LeBron James: