Known for an inspirational NCAA basketball appearance and raising over $1.5 million for cancer research, 19-year-old Lauren Hill passed away last week due to an inoperable brain tumor.
Diagnosed with the tumor while still in high school, Hill continued living life to its fullest and raising awareness in the process. She co-founded a nonprofit cancer foundation called The Cure Starts Now and attended the Division III Mount St. Joseph University.
"She taught us that every day is a blessing, every moment is a gift," said school President Tony Aretz, per the Associated Press (AP).
Hill, who often inspired those around her with the words "Never give up," regularly attended practice and appeared in four contests for the school, finally having to withdraw from activity due to her condition. Her role on the team left an indelible mark on those around her.
"One of the toughest moments in my coaching career ever was lying next to her in the hospital bed, holding her hand, thanking her," said head coach Dan Benjamin, per the AP.
Hill's legacy went beyond basketball, though.
"I'm spreading awareness and also teaching people how to live in the moment, because the next moment's not promised," she once told the AP after practice. "Anything can happen at any given moment. What matters is right now.
"Especially after this kind of diagnosis, your perspective on life and what you value changes."
The NCAA participation certainly helped raise Hill's profile, ensuring her story reached many. NCAA President Mark Emmert expanded on that impact.
"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," he said, according to the AP.
That story was particularly compelling to those in the basketball community. Her passing even sparked a series of tweets from NBA superstar LeBron James.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, there will be nearly 70,000 primary brain tumor diagnoses this year, and nearly 700,000 people in the US live with brain tumors.