Lauren Hill, inspirational college basketball player with cancer, dead at 19

Apr 10, 2015 12:36 PM by News Staff

Lauren Hill, the college basketball player who inspired millions with her brave battle against cancer, has died. She was 19.

CBS Cincinnati affiliate WKRC reported Friday morning that Hill died from her inoperable brain tumor.

Hill was a freshman at Ohio's Mount St. Joseph University, where she gained national attention by taking to the court last fall despite her grave diagnosis. The team rallied behind her and convinced the NCAA to move up their season opener to give her a chance to play. She made two layups, scoring the first and last baskets of the game."This is the greatest day of my life," Hill said to the sold-out crowd as she stood at half court."Let's not call it one last game," she said. "This is my first collegiate game."

WKRC reports that in four games, she scored five baskets in all. Her point total: a perfect 10.

She also made a lasting mark by starting a charity called The Cure Starts Now to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research and treatment. So far, the group has raised more than $1.5 million dollars.

In a statement Friday, NCAA president Mark Emmert paid tribute to Hill's "beautiful spirit":

Lauren Hill's bravery, enthusiasm and strength were an inspiration not only to those who knew her best but also to the millions of people she touched around the world by sharing her story. Lauren achieved a lasting and meaningful legacy, and her beautiful spirit will continue to live on. Our hearts go out to her family, friends, teammates and coaches.

Mount St. Joseph University announced plans for a memorial vigil Friday afternoon.

"God has a new game plan for Lauren Hill," school president Dr. Tony Aretz said in a statement. "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 [Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma]. 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 was diagnosed in 2013 after suffering from vertigo and dizziness while playing for her high school team. Doctors said a tumor the size of a lemon was continuing to grow, and there was little they could do.

In December, her family said she had begun receiving hospice care at home.

Although she would be unable to complete her freshman year, Hill was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Mount St. Joseph in a private ceremony for family, teammates and friends on February 6, WKRC reported.

In an update on her Facebook page April 1, her family said she was tired but remained in good spirits.

"Occasional headache and still very tired but humor remains intact when she can work it in," they wrote. A photo of Hill dressed as the Easter bunny helped make the point.

Hill outlived doctors' predictions that she might not make it to see 2015. "God has the last say," Hill told WKRC in a January interview.

"When I leave that's fine. I'm not scared. I'm scared for everybody else, like my family and how they'll handle it. And it will be fine."

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Most Popular