Today I watched the tribute to college basketball player, Lauren Hill, from the 2015 ESPY Awards, and it was beautiful. I cried as I was reminded of the amazing courage this young woman showed in the face of adversity and how she made a big difference in the world in such a short space of time.
Lauren Hill was a teenager who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, but had a dream to play college basketball and she was not going to let anything stop her. Not even an inoperable brain tumour. The world, particularly the sports world, was taken by this brave young woman who simply wanted to play one game in her college uniform.
As Lauren’s condition got worse, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allowed her college, Mount St. Joseph, to move up its opening game by two weeks, so that Lauren would get her wish. Her first game was an incredibly special moment in sports, with it being moved Xavier University to be able to seat 10,000 people just to meet capacity and Lauren scoring her first points as a college player.
When Lauren made that layup, watching the reaction of her team, coaches and the entire stadium was something to behold. It was a beautiful moment that is likely bring to bring a tear to anyone’s eye. Lauren not only beat the odds by playing in that one game, but she also went on to play in three more games and made five layups in total. However, once she was no longer able to play, she became an honorary coach for her team.
Lauren was just 19 when she died on April 10th, but she was able to raise $1.5 million for cancer research and inspire a generation. Her Mount St. Joseph coach, Dan Benjamin, told ABC before Lauren’s first NCAA game in November, “She’s taught me, don’t ever give up.”
As Lauren’s parents accepted the ‘Best Moment’ Award on her behalf, her mum Lisa Hill said the season was about more than basketball — it was about life lessons and living in the moment. She also left the audience with the message, “It is possible to achieve your dreams.”
Lauren showed incredible strength and fought to achieve her dream, even though that dream seemed impossible. She was determined to do what she loved and she refused to let something as severe as incurable cancer tell her no.
Every single one of us, particularly us young people, can learn from Lauren and be inspired by her story. None of us should be afraid to go after our dreams and we should never allow anyone or anything to tell us no.
Our dreams are important and we have it in us to reach them, just like Lauren did. We should also do what we can to make a difference and if possible, use our dreams to make a difference. The world needs to see more inspiring young people making difference and also following their dreams.
Lauren was an amazing person who was able to do a lot in so little time, and it’s a real shame that her life was cut short, but I’m glad that she was able to turn her situation into something positive, something great. She will never be forgotten, and I hope that we can continue to fulfill her legacy in some way and make the world proud.