Lion King Star, 11, Dies of Cancer
Shannon Tavarez inspired thousands to donate bone marrow
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2010 2:23 AM CDT
Shannon Tavarez relaxes at her Queens home earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Rick Maiman, File)
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(Newser) – A young girl with a giant voice who won an open audition for a role in the Broadway production of The Lion King has died of leukemia at the age of 11. Shannon Tavarez spent seven months performing in the show before she was diagnosed in April. Thousands of people, including rapper 50 Cent, volunteered to donate bone marrow to help in her battle for health, but no match for the 6th-grader was ever found, ABC News reports. Her mixed Hispanic and African-American background made it harder to find a match.

Tavarez competed against thousands of hopefuls to win the role of Young Nala. "She was fearless, as a performer and as a young woman,” the production stage manager for The Lion King tells the New York Times. “She was never intimidated and she was constantly happy. After she was diagnosed, all she talked about was when she could come back.”