Lauren Hill has been a tremendous inspiration across America these last few weeks, as the Mount St. Joseph freshman continues her battle against a rare and inoperable form of brain cancer. On November 2nd, Hill drew national attention, and 10,000 fans at Xavier, as they watched her make a layup in her first career college basketball game.
Thankfully, that game wouldn’t be her last.
According to report from Tim Warsinskey of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hill was expected to join her Mount St. Joseph teammates on the bench on Friday, and potentially even dress in her uniform, but a weakened state had left her unable to practice since her November 2nd college basketball debut. Hill drove with her family nearly four hours from Lawrenceburg, Ind. to join Mount St. Joseph as they played Bethany College at the Baldwin Wallace Invitational.
But Hill fought through the weakened state, defied the odds and showed her courageous spirit once again, as she built up enough energy to check into the game with 8:06 remaining in the second half and Mount St. Joseph trailing by 14. On her first possession, Hill took a pass from a teammate on the left block and scored with her right hand over a Bethany College defender who gave her some space and the basket made it a 56-44 deficit with 7:47 to play.
Timeout was immediately called as teammates mobbed Hill and walked her to the bench as the crowd of 322 at Baldwin Wallace’s Ursprung Gymnasium gave her a rousing standing ovation. The basket marked Hill’s third career college field goal and goes down as another incredible moment in her fight against cancer. Mount St. Joseph mounted a bit of a comeback and made it close but ultimately fell, 69-64, to Bethany College.
For Hill to muster up energy for another game is truly remarkable. She had to endure a four-hour drive, but she still dressed in full uniform and wore white-rimmed dark sunglasses and ear protection on the bench due to her growing sensitivity to light and sound.
Hill kept bugging her head coach, Dan Benjamin, to give her a chance to play and the coach allowed her to play when she started to become weak by the second half.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Benjamin said to the Plain Dealer. “I talked to her mom and dad this morning and she wasn’t feeling very well. We weren’t sure what she was going to do. She hasn’t practiced in two weeks and I was nervous about putting her in and her getting hurt.
“But she was on the bench saying, ‘Coach, I’m starting to fade. I’m draining,’ and I said I’m putting her in. My staff was like, ‘No, we’re in this game.’ I said, ‘I don’t care. It’s not about the game.’ It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made.”
Hill and her family politely refused comment after the game as they returned home to Indiana. If this does end up being Hill’s final game, it was a great surprise and a thrill to see her earn a little more playing time and score once again. Knowing her toughness and resolve, Hill certainly isn’t going to back down from her fight.
The #Layup4Lauren initiative has seen basketball players and fans from coast-to-coast joining the cause and raising money and awareness to fight diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the rare cancer that Lauren is fighting. According to Warsinskey’s report, the #Layup4Lauren campaign has raised more than $324,000 so far.
(Video credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer)