Lauren Hill, who beat the odds by playing college basketball this fall despite her inoperable brain tumor, has died. She was 19.
Hill was recruited to play on the Mount St. Joseph University basketball team in Cincinnati, but shortly after committing to play for them in 2013, she learned she had an inoperable brain tumor called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Although playing a college game seemed impossible, she practiced with the team anyway.
“She’s taught me, don’t ever give up,” Dan Benjamin, Mount St. Joseph’s girls’ basketball coach, told ABC News before Hill’s first NCAA game Nov. 2, which the association moved up two weeks so Hill was healthy enough to play. “There’s no reason to not roll out of bed with a smile on our face like she does.”
Hill scored the first and last points of the game, despite problems with her dominant hand and sensitivity to light and sound.
“Today’s been the best day I’ve ever had,” Hill said through tears, as she clutched the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, which the United States Basketball Writers Association presented to her several months earlier than usual.
Through Club 22 — named for Hill’s her jersey number – she had raised more than $1.6 million toward the Cure Starts Now Foundation, which was founded by the mother of a little girl who died eight years ago of the same cancer.
“It’s kind of hard to just focus on you and not on others,” Hill said in March on “The View.” “With this disease, there’s nothing they can do. And I just kept thinking about all these other kids and I had to be that voice.”