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The late Lauren Hill wins ESPY’s “Best Moment” Award

by | Jul 16, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

lisa-and-brent-hill  While it is unfortunate in the extreme that the late Lauren Hill did not win the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage award, last night her parents did receive the “Best Moment” award. The ESPY–short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly–is an accolade presented by the cable sports network ESPN.

The first Courage award winner was the late basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer. Other winners included Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, and basketball coaches Dean Smith and Pat Summitt. This year’s winner is Caitlyn Jenner.

Lauren’s parents, Lisa and Brent, accepted the award of behalf of Lauren who died after a lengthy battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine Glioma, a particularly vicious form of brain cancer. Doctors had predicted she would be fortunate if she lived passed last Christmas.

Instead Lauren lived until April 10 and helped raise over $1.5 million for “The Cure Starts Now.”

News of her indomitable spirit and formidable determination went national when, although already weakened by a rapidly spreading cancer, she fulfilled a dream by playing basketball for Mount St. Joseph University.

NRL News Today wrote many stories about Lauren, beginning with the preparations for her first game against Hiram College. Lauren’s condition was deteriorating so rapidly, the NCAA allowed the game to be moved ahead two weeks. As the AP explained today

Xavier University offered its 10,000-seat arena so more people could attend. Tickets sold out in less than an hour.

She ended up playing in four games and made five layups. LeBron James sent her gifts and tweeted how much of an inspiration she was. James looked on as Hill’s parents accepted the trophy at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

“If she were here today standing on this stage, she would ask you not to sit on the bench,” her mother Lisa said. “Please don’t wait until you’re personally affected by cancer to start kicking cancer’s butt.”

   When Mrs. Hill spoke, I instantly thought of Valvano, as charismatic a human being as has ever lived.

“Jimmy V’s” speech at the ESPY’s in 1993 will always be remembered for his “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up” insistence, a few months before he died. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself an incredible favor and dial it up on YouTube [www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE1TVwqiTYU]

We’ve written many times how cunning are the anti-life forces. How they unconscionably exploited the death of Brittany Maynard, another young woman suffering from brain cancer, to advance the cause of “assisted suicide.”

Lauren didn’t use her disease to raise money for the likes of “Compassion and Choices,” the former Hemlock Society. She used her courage and her determination and her pluck to reach her goal of raising over $1 million for “The Cure Starts Now.”

What if Lauren, not Maynard, was the ‘face’ of how to respond when faced with a lethal prognosis? How different might the discussion be today.

Let me end with something I wrote last year. It was taken from an interview Lauren gave Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Daugherty concluded his superb column with a series of quotes from Lauren—about life, about God, about the family that is so precious to her, about asking for a cure, and about what people should remember:

“I ask God for a cure for cancer and that my family will be fine when and if I’m gone. They are who I worry about. My family and my friends.

“What is it like to know you’re dying? It’s like I want to get stuff done. Like I’m in a rush. People are told they have five weeks to live, and they live five years. I don’t know.

“I want everybody to know I never give up, even though I have my low moments and I feel like giving up, because they’re awful. Please, is it over?

“My family gets me back on track to my never-give-up. I just wish it would be easier. I know when I’m having a hard time, it affects everybody else.

“If I do pass, I don’t want people to say I lost. I want, ‘She kicked DIPG’s butt and raised a lot of money for research.’

“By the end of the year, (we) want to raise a million dollars. That’d be really awesome. That’d be the best Christmas present.”

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