Lauren Hill, a freshman with inoperable brain cancer at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, kicked off the 2014-15 college basketball season with a layup this past Sunday.
According to espnW.com’s Alyssa Roenigk, doctors told Hill in September that she only has a few months left to live. The NCAA allowed Mount St. Joseph to move up its game against Hiram College two weeks in hopes that Hill would be healthy enough to participate.
Not only was she healthy enough, she scored both the first and last bucket of the game. After Mount St. Joseph won the tip, the Lions forced the ball to Hill in the post. She turned around and drained a left-handed layup, the first basket of her college basketball career.
After hitting the shot, both benches erupted in a standing ovation, while her teammates rushed to congratulate her at center court. The crowd roared in approval and chanted her name, “Laur-en Hill.”
According to the Fox Sports Ohio telecast, Mount St. Joseph head coach Dan Benjamin asked Hill before the game what she wanted to do after scoring her first basket—go back on defense, or call timeout and celebrate. Understandably, Hill chose the latter option.
The NCAA on Twitter shared some scenes from the game, which drew more than 10,000 attendees:
.@_theMount won the tap.
Lauren Hill made the layup.
The place went nuts. #PlayFor22 pic.twitter.com/X87vCsQ9V5
— NCAA (@NCAA) November 2, 2014
Hill was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an inoperable form of pediatric brain cancer, just over a month after committing to play at Mount St. Joseph, per NPR’s Sam Sanders. Her tumor has weakened the right side of her body, and also causes headaches and nausea that caused her to spend most of the game wearing pink sunglasses and headphones, per Roenigk.
However, her heroics weren’t limited to that one play. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Benjamin called her number again, sending her back into the game for one final score. She missed her first attempt, another lefty layup, but the Lions rebounded the ball and fed it right back to her. This time, she converted a right-handed layup, sealing the Lions’ 66-55 win.
“I never thought I would play on a college court, put my feet on the floor and feel the vibration of the crowd,” Hill said after the game, via Roenigk. “This game has been amazing, and everything that happened today was amazing. This is a really good day.”
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James couldn’t help but notice Hill’s story, posting a picture on his Instagram while thanking her for inspiring him:
You are simply and truly "AMAZING" Lauren Hill!!! Thank you for inspiring me and I'll try my best to match you! Congrats on your game. Also be looking out for a package from I to You! You're Awesome!!! A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:36am PST
Xavier University’s men’s basketball head coach, Chris Mack, pledged in .
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.