Lauren Hill profoundly captured the imagination of the nation with her trademark never give up mantra, particularly after being diagnosed with a debilitating form of terminal brain cancer known as D.I.P.G (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma); Hill had two years left to live, and researched to combat the disease, whilst inspirationally championing the Lay up for Lauren foundation to raise funds to ensure a cure. Hill lost her battle with D.I.P.G aged 19 during the early hours of April 10, 2015.
The late motivational and brave NCAA Division III athlete – who competed for Mt. St. Joseph Lions – witnessed deep fatigue and vision wither in her right eye, thus sporting earphones and shades when sitting on the bench when she awaited her awaited NCAA debut inside Xavier University‘s 10,000 seated arena in Cinncinati, OH on November 2, 2014 in a triumphant 66-55 victory against Hiram. The positive-filled teenager couldn’t withstand the often loud music and vastly beaming spotlights that penetrated when playing, yet had not yielded in pursuit of her ultimate dream – forging a career as a basketball athlete in the NCAA.
The likelihood of being drafted in the WNBA remained highly improbable given Hill’s well-documented health implications although it was her unmatched honor, passion and positivity which stood out. The defiance, resilience and strength in fighting what was a losing battle never wavered the late Lauren Hill and she fought to the very end even when doctors did not want to take her dreams seriously.
Hill marked her NCAA collegiate debut with 25.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the showdown against Hiram in scoring 4 points; WNBA All-Stars in Elena Delle Done and Tamika Catchings made special guest appearances to both selflessly honor and celebrate the impactful influence with integrity of the positively upbeat Hill.
The never-surrender teenager had gained a tremendous perspective in life to live for the moment each day and live life on her terms, whereas her mindset was not one of woe is me given her personal health circumstances.
Furthermore, Hill didn’t make a single dime competing in the NCAA as a student-athlete, and routinely played for the love of the game without any form of entitlement; Hill was awarded with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award and the Pat Summit Award for overcoming obstacles and adversity in life. This immense burning passion was a rarity in NCAA Division III, as the leading collegiate division – NCAA Division I – is where the WNBA and other Women’s professional basketball franchises internationally traditionally draft and sign athletes. The key word here: pride.
2,500 T-Shirts promoting the Lay Up for Lauren Foundation were sold during the Mt. St. Joseph and Hiram NCAA Division III Women’s basketball encounter, which will not be remembered for its outcome, rather the very priceless moment that transpired when Lauren Hill made her NCAA debut; Hill went 2-3 from the field against Hiram, and received a rapturous ‘We want Lauren’ chant prior to entering the game.
Lauren Hill had essentially unified the world of Women’s basketball – collegiately and professionally – in smiling despite grave obstacles, leading when others followed, and being the inspirational face in fighting D.I.P.G (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma); Ohio native, Brendan Kelly, who died of D.I.P.G in March 2014, befriended and largely supported Hill with words of wisdom and moral support.
It was when the teenager addressed the electric, basketball-loving crowd in Ohio during halftime of the sold-out NCAA game, when she humbly noted how the moment she was experiencing before the audience was the greatest feeling of her entire life due to the fact she would invariably debut in the NCAA; viewers inside the arena and teammates were sincerely reduced to tears courtesy of the moving scenes and words.
Zane White – who coached Hill at Lawrenceburg High School – spoke of her innate strength and leadership, with Xavier Muskateers Head Coach, Chris Mack, who partaken in – and donated money for – the Lay Up for Lauren Foundation during the Mt. St. Joseph and Hiram clash shown support to the star of stars – Lauren Hill.
Life is often too short, and there are no guarantees. Lauren Hill wholeheartedly appreciated each and every single day that she had been provided with, all with a smile on her face when deeply crying inside. Lauren Hill’s legacy is – and will be – one of hope and belief. Life is too short, so live for the moment.