Don't call Lauren Hill's first college basketball game on Sunday her last, because that's not how she's sees it.
"Let's call this my first collegiate game," Hill said after scoring four points against Hiram College, in a game which made headlines around the world. The 19-year-old college freshman at Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati has inoperable brain cancer and isn't expected to live through December. But that didn't stop her from fulfilling her life's dream, according to WCPO:
Hill found out shortly after her 18th birthday in October 2013 that she has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, an inoperable form of brain cancer. There's no known cure for the disease and thus far has proven to be 100 percent fatal. She learned the diagnosis just 49 days after committing to play ball for Mount St. Joe's in Delhi Township. The cancer has continued to attack her body, leaving her sensitive to light and loud noises. It's also affected some of her ability to move and made it difficult to shoot with her right hand.
In order to play basketball, Hill wears ear plugs, sunglasses and learned to shoot with her left hand, which sounds damn near impossible. In September, nearly a year after her initial diagnosis, doctors told Hill she had only a few months to live. "I knew in the back of my mind it had grown. There isn't anything to say, because they can't do anything," Lauren told WKRC.
According to ESPN, the NCAA allowed the game to be moved up two weeks so Hill could play while she was still in good health. Twitter ignited support through the hashtags #1More4Lauren and #Layup4Lauren. On Sunday, Hill played in her first game:
By the time the game tipped off, 10,000 fans had flooded the stands at Xavier University to see Hill play. Mount St. Joseph games typically draw 100 fans, but when word of Lauren's story spread, the demand for tickets and media coverage made a site change necessary. Xavier University offered the use of their arena and its employees volunteered their time to staff the game.
After she scored, both teams gave Hill a standing ovation before she exited the game. Her teammates mobbed her at center court, her coaches presented her with the game ball and she hugged head coach Dan Benjamin, the man they call Coach Bear. And then she took her seat on the bench and the game resumed.
At halftime, former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt presented Hill with the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award. In addition, The Cure Starts Now announced the organization raised more than $40,000 from the game to help research DIPG.
"I've never felt so good in my entire life," Hill said afterwards.
Mount Joseph won Sunday's game, 66-55. But again, don't call it her last game. "'One Last Game' that's kinda scary," Hill told Fox Sports. "Don't we have a game next week? I don't want it to be my last game and I don't plan on it being my last game."