Home National News Cancer claims NCAA basketball player known for her ‘determined spirit’

Cancer claims NCAA basketball player known for her ‘determined spirit’

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CINCINNATI — Lauren Hill, a Mount St. Joseph University freshman who gained international attention when she pursued her dream of playing college basketball even as her inoperable brain cancer advanced, died April 10. She was 19.

She suffered from a brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, known as DIPG.

Ohio college basketball player Lauren Hill, who died of cancer April 10, is pictured in a 2014 photo. A student at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Hill gained international attention when she decided to play on the college's freshman basketball team even as her inoperable brain tumor advanced. (CNS photo/courtesy Mount St. Joseph University)
Ohio college basketball player Lauren Hill, who died of cancer April 10, is pictured in a 2014 photo. A student at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Hill gained international attention when she decided to play on the college’s freshman basketball team even as her inoperable brain tumor advanced. (CNS photo/courtesy Mount St. Joseph University)

“God has a new game plan for Lauren Hill,” said a statement from Tony Aretz, president of Mount St. Joseph University.

“Her light will continue to shine on us all as her supporters worldwide continue her mission of increasing awareness and finding a cure for DIPG,” he said. “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.”

Hill rose to national fame Nov. 2 after Mount St. Joseph, a Catholic university, petitioned the NCAA to open the season early so that she could achieve her dream of playing collegiate basketball. Hill scored a layup to open the game, a highlight that has been viewed on YouTube more than half a million times.

The university held an evening memorial service for Hill April 13.

“As Lauren’s family and friends grieve, I am sure I speak for many who will choose to reflect on her incredible life with admiration and find ways to remember her selfless generosity,” Aretz said. “We thank God for the gift of Lauren and thank her parents and family for the honor of allowing the Mount to be a part of her life. Her love and laughter will remain in our hearts.”

Following her diagnosis, Hill worked to raise money and awareness for research on her cancer with the Cure Starts Now Foundation, granting interviews and making appearances even as her conditioned worsened.

“We are saddened to hear that our friend Lauren Hill has passed away this morning,” said a foundation posting on Facebook. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time. … Throughout her diagnosis Lauren was a tireless advocate and spokesperson for the Cure Starts Now’s efforts to find the ‘homerun cure.’ Lauren captured the hearts of people worldwide with her tenacity and determination to play in her first collegiate basketball game with her Mount St. Joseph University team.”

The Cure Starts Now added that Hill’s efforts have raised $1.4 million for research on diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.