Even the deepest cynics will find something to smile about in the above video, one that shows Mount St. Joseph University freshman Lauren Hill scoring a layup against Hiram College this afternoon.
Hill’s been diagnosed with an inoperable form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, yet still wanted to play for the small division III school in Cincinnati that recruited her. The school, along with its opening opponent, lobbied to move the game from its original Nov. 15 date to today. Xavier University then provided its Cintas Arena to hold the sell-out crowd, FOX Sports paid to televise the game, and Hiram agreed to allow the first points of the game to be scored by Hill.
Obviously, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house once Hill made the basket, as both teams and the crowd gave her a minutes-long standing ovation. Hill received two awards on the day, one from the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Women’s Sports Association and another from women’s basketball legend Pat Summitt, who attended the event with former player Tamika Catchings (Summitt’s battling Alzheimer’s, so Catchings spoke on her behalf).
Mount St. Joseph did win the game 66-55. Although press billed the game as Hill’s last, Hill had a good sense of humor about how that tagline left her confused:
“I mean, don’t we have a game next week?” Hill said, to laughter, during her press conference.
“I don’t want it to be my last game and I don’t plan on it being my last game. If I can’t play, if I’m in wheelchair by then or anything that happens, I’m still going to try to be there with my team to support them because they’ve always been there to support me.”
For more on Hill’s story, check out ESPN W’s profile from earlier today. As Cincinnati.com notes, pediatric brain cancer organization The Cure Starts Now Foundation has already raised $40,000 because of the outpouring of support for Hill.