Lauren Hill, basketball player whose battle with cancer helped raise over $1.5 … –

Lauren Hill, whose inspirational story of fighting a tumor to play college basketball touched a nation, died of brain cancer in a hospital in Cincinnati on Friday morning, the Associated Press reported. She was only 19.

Hill, a freshman at Division III St. Joseph University, used her story to create a non-profit foundation that helped raise more than $1.5 million for cancer research.

“Through Lauren’s fundraising and advocacy efforts, she not only became a spotlight on the lack of funding for cancer research, but she most certainly has become a beacon guiding researchers for years to come,” The Cure Starts Now co-founder Brooke Desserich told the AP.

“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,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a release. “Lauren achieved a lasting and meaningful legacy, and her beautiful spirit will continue to live on. Our hearts go out to her family, friends, teammates and coaches.”

A year and a half ago, Hill felt dizzy while playing for her high school team in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and doctors subsequently found a tumor. Despite being given just two years to live, Hill decided to continue pursuing her goal of playing college basketball and scoring in a college game.

The NCAA allowed Mount St. Joseph move up its first game by two weeks to Nov. 2 as her condition worsened. By that point the tumor had affected the right-handed Hill’s right side so much, she had to shoot with her left. She scored on a layup early in the game.  

“It’s a dream come true,” she said that night. “To play on a college court, to put my foot down on the floor and hear the roar of the crowd — I just love it so much. I love basketball.”

Hill played in four games this season before her condition deteriorated to the point where she could not play any more. Her team held its annual postseason dinner in a room at her hospital.

She was given the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

“She’s made an impact on the world, more so than me — more than I ever will do,” Mount St. Joseph coach Dan Benjamin told the AP. “I’ve gotten so many emails and phone calls from all over the world. People are contacting me because they want to share her story.”

UPDATE, 12:58 p.m.: As journalists and sports celebrities around the country offered their condolences, LeBron James sent this five-tweet letter: