Emmet Ryan writes about how Lauren Hill’s brief moment in the spotlight made a lasting impact.
Even on a basket-geek site like this, I’m not exactly taking a risk when I say the vast majority of our readers had never heard of Mount St. Joseph University or had much knowledge of NCAA Division III women’s basketball before last autumn. All of that changed with one student. One young lady who brought a brave face to an impossible situation.
Hill was diagnosed with brain cancer but didn’t want to give up on her youth and opportunity while she had it. A young woman just months out of high school, she had a dream of playing college hoops and cancer wasn’t going to stop that. Her courage received the right response from sports fans everywhere. Mount St Joseph brought its season opener forward for Hill who has been diagnosed a year earlier. Hiram College did its part by not just agreeing to the move but also to move the game to a location more amenable to Hill’s team. Initially the plan was to play on the Mount St Joseph’s campus but interest became such that it was eventually played in front of a capacity crowd of 10,250 at the Cintas Centre in Cincinnati. With that, Layup4Lauren was born.
Mount St Joseph changed into special gray coloured jerseys for the game, for brain cancers awareness, and Hiram’s players warmed up in Play for 22 t-shirts after the young woman’s number. Hill took the floor as a starter and millions of us watched live and cheered as she made the game’s opening basket. Hill also scored the final bucket of the game. More honours and awards came, Hill managed to play again for the Lions along with serving as assistant coach but it was off the court that this basketball player made the biggest impact.
We’ve heard about her friendship with Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengals player whose daughter Leah is fighting leukemia, we’ve seen Hill’s regular updates on social media. She kept smiling. While facing a kind of pain none of us much older than her could imagine, those of us who had the experiences and the time she would never know sat back in awe. For one 19 year-old to move any of us with her resilience is impressive, to do so when up against such a dire outlook is inspiring beyond my lexicon.
The social media age helped us to get to know a part of Lauren Hill. Only those close to her truly knew her as a person but we as a community got to see a part of her that will live long in our memories. Even in her final days, she was still smiling and working to help those in need. That’s a kind of charity that anyone can get behind.
For all the BallinEurope team and our community, our sympathies go out to Lauren Hill’s family and friends. They, like Hill, also have our gratitude.
81 Media, parent group of BallinEurope, will contribute all advertising revenue received during the month of April to cancer charities