Around this time last year, Lauren Hill was a senior starting on the Lawrenceburg (Ind.) High School basketball team, committed to continuing her basketball career at a Division III college in Cincinnati.
That dream would be cut short before it even started, as Hill's doctors diagnosed her with a rare brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma last November. Hill decided to use the diagnosis of the inoperable brain tumor as inspiration, grasping the opportunity to get the word out about DIPG. She also continued playing hoops despite worsening symptoms.
Her story became national news when Mount St. Joseph played its first game of the season on Nov. 2, a few weeks early in order to give Hill the chance to play at least one college game before her symptoms become too severe. Legendary coach Pat Summitt surprised her at halftime, presenting her with the Pat Summitt Most Courageous award.
Hill was the next to surprise everyone, her doctors included, by appearing in a regularly scheduled game last Friday. She's also raised more than $350,000 through a cancer research funding campaign called Layup4Lauren, appeared on a Wheaties box and earned a personalized NBA Live 2015 cover.
On Saturday night, her alma mater added yet another surprise: The school retired Hill's No. 22 jersey.
The half-time ceremony even caught Hill off guard, as did the announcement that there will be a Lauren Hill Week in the town. She says she thought she was just attending a regular Saturday night game.
“All this has been amazing and the continued support from everybody, and all the other teams, and the community,” Hill said as she addressed the crowd. “There’s really good people out there, that I’ve learned, and I’m speechless.”
Her courage has had the same effect on people around the country, from professional athletes to children battling DIPG. For Hill, that's another dream come true.