Lauren Hill, a freshman at Division III Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, realized her dream of playing in a college basketball game on Sunday despite being diagnosed with a terminal brain disease shortly after committing to the school.
Hill, who has an inoperable form of brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), was given only months to live. Mount St. Joseph was originally slated to begin its season on Nov. 15, but was able to convince the NCAA to move their opening game against Hiram to Sunday at the Cintas Center, Xavier's home court, to allow the 19-year-old Hill to play.
Wearing No. 22, Hill was introduced in the starting lineup to a standing ovation. After wining the opening tip, Mount St. Joseph set up a play for Hill, who scored a layup, then received a prolonged standing ovation and was greeted by her teammates at midcourt.
"I've never felt so good in my entire life," Hill said on the Fox Sports television broadcast, and also asked that people donate to The Cure Starts Now.
Hill also scored the game's final basket -- this time with her right hand, despite the fact that her disease has sapped much of the strength from the right side of her body -- to help seal a 66-55 Mount St. Joseph win:
At the game, Hill was also presented with the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Women's Sports Association Wilma Rudolph Courage Award, given to a local athlete who displays the most courageous or comeback performance.
The NCAA, and longtime Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, surprised Hill with another courage award as well.
The event raised quite a bit of money for charity, which was part of HIll's goal -- but not all of it.
At the conclusion of the game, the team announced that the game had raised $40,000 for TCSN, which raises money to fund research for DIPG, the rare type of pediatric brain cancer from which Lauren is suffering.
"To reach and touch this many people is amazing," Lauren said. "Not many people knew about DIPG before me, and now that they do, we can get research going to cure this cancer. I won't be around to see that, but it's going to help so many people. That's why the support can't end with this game."
Hill has received support throughout the sports world.
No. 22 jerseys come pouring in from across the country to support Lauren Hill's cancer research fundraiser. pic.twitter.com/qNeZ51MtaZ— NCAA (@NCAA) October 30, 2014