Lauren Hill's courage, and bravery has stolen our hearts and inspired us all. A few weeks ago when I saw her story go viral over social media, I couldn't help but cry. About a year ago during her senior year of high school she was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer without a cure and given less than two years to live. On her 18th Birthday she committed to play basketball at Mt. Saint Joseph's with hope that she would be able to live long enough to live out her dream of playing college basketball. When school started in the fall of this year, the tumor in her brain had increased as doctors projected she wouldn't live to see the new year. The NCAA granted the schools request to move the season opener up to November 2nd so Lauren could play in her first and what will likely also be her last game college game. The school moved the game to nearby Xavier University and in 45 minutes the arena sold out, 10,000 tickets. Since hearing this story, Lauren Hill has been on my mind a lot. Watching the many videos and news story of her losing her motor skills, energy, not being able to dribble or run down the court and do what she loves with her teammates really started to hit home. It really just puts so much in perspective, at times I felt selfish obsessing over my so-called problems when Lauren Hill has been fighting for her life showing nothing but positivity. Leading up to the game, the tumor in her head had grown to the size of a lemon, as her time here on earth has dwindled down to weeks and some sources saying they didn't even know if she was going to physically be able to play in her first last game.
Sunday afternoon myself and millions of others across the country tuned into a sold out Cintas Center and watched Lauren Hill's dream come true. I found myself emotional and caught up in the moment of what was happening and what this meant for Lauren, her team, her community, and everyone else watching. Seeing her smile as they announced her name as a starter and the tears from my face just fell. The game started and MSJ set up in their play for Lauren to score to her first collegiate points, "Lauren's Lay up." The ball reversed, she came off a back screen and nailed a left-handed lay up, the tears fell again. The game stopped, the crowd bursted in an uproar, the opposing team cheered, as her teammates and coached rushed on the floor and surrounded her with joy all crying tears of happiness for Lauren finally getting this moment.
As the game continued Lauren watched her teammates from the bench wearing sunglasses and large headphones to cover her ears and eyes to block the sound and light from the game. During the course of the game there were numerous interviews from her parents, school administrators, and Lauren herself. At the young age of only 19, she has shown so much strength to us all living her final moments on earth to fullest wanting to reach out to as many people as possible to help gain support of cancer. She's never once complained or felt sorry for herself, but instead has cheered on her team at every practice as the only thing she has wanted to do since being diagnosed, was play basketball.
Many college and professional athletes have dedicated their upcoming games and seasons in Lauren's honor to play for 22. I no longer have the opportunity to do the same, but the impact that Lauren has had on my life in just three short weeks has been tremendous. When start to feel lazy or complain about something so meaningless, #22 instantly comes into my head, I say a quick prayer, and get just enough strength to push through for Lauren.
It honestly sucks that Lauren has to be an example for the rest of the world. But there is no doubt that she has done just that by changing so many lives, including mine. Lauren's legacy will live on forever and I hope that people will be inspired by her story. Inspired to live a selfless life of humility, strength, and determination just as she has done for all of us.
Lauren is hero and I will never forget this day, November 2nd 2014. Lauren's first game, and watching this very special moment.
Thank you Lauren, for all the sacrifices you have endured for the rest of us.