Lauren Hill, the terminally ill Mount St. Joseph basketball player for whom the NCAA moved up her school's season opener, died today at the age of 19, the AP reports. Brooke Desserich, the co-founder of Hill's The Cure Starts Now nonprofit, tells the news agency Hill died in the hospital this morning. Hill had signed up for hospice care in December, the Indianapolis Star reports, and recent posts on the Lauren's Fight for Cure Facebook page had indicated she had lost her appetite and was suffering from headaches and having trouble swallowing. The teen suffered from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, a type of brain tumor that typically affects young children.
Hill was diagnosed with DIPG shortly after her 18th birthday, but she didn't let that stop her zest for life. In the NCAA opener that was moved up to allow her to play one last time, Hill scored both the opening and closing baskets of the game, seen by a sold-out crowd at Xavier University on Nov. 2, the Star notes. The Cure Starts Now Facebook page noted this morning that Hill's fundraising efforts had helped secure more than $1.4 million for DIPG research and that "Lauren wanted it to be known that DIPG didn't beat her, but that she beat DIPG." Lauren kept her trademark sunny attitude and sense of humor up until the very end. In a March 8 Facebook post, she's quoted as responding to a recent fall when her legs gave out as saying, "I didn't fall, I gracefully assaulted the floor." (Read more NCAA basketball stories.)