ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – In an unprecedented move,
the board of directors of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association
has unanimously agreed to honor Mount Saint Joseph's University
freshman Lauren Hill with a Pat Summitt
Most Courageous Award that is given annually to a women's
player, normally during the Women's Final Four.
But as it became recently widely known, Hill's story is so compelling
that because of the circumstances, it became imperative that USBWA
honor Lauren immediately with the announcement and as soon as possible
with the presentation.
A year ago the Lions' 19-year-old freshman, whose school is located
in Cincinnati and competes at the Division III level, was diagnosed
with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an inoperable brain tumor,
and doctors gave her about two years to live in the best scenario.
This was learned about six weeks after she gave her commitment
to attend the university.
She continued to play basketball through her senior year at Lawrenceburg
High in the greater Cincinnati area while undergoing treatments
for the cancer.
In early September, however, Hill, who is raising awareness to
help others with the same condition, learned the tumor had grown
larger and doctors gave her until December, at best, to live.
Hill has continued to be with the team and through an agreement
with its opponent and an unprecedented exception from the NCAA,
the Lions will host Hiram College on Nov. 2, several weeks ahead
of the scheduled Nov. 15 start date for the game and season.
Lauren told local station WKRC, "I never gave up for a second
even when I got a terminal diagnosis; never thought about sitting
back and not living life anymore."
The plan is for Lauren, wearing her No. 22, to play a few minutes,
to fulfill the one wish she has had since learning the news of her
"I think it's going to be a really, really big day," Hill told
the Jim Rome Show. "I'm still shell-shocked at how far this story
is getting because I never would have expected it to reach this
many people. I'm speechless right now."
Dan Benjamin, the women's basketball coach at Mount Saint Joseph's,
told the local TV station, "She's a special person. This girl is
so strong, she's dealing with death and all she's thinking about
is everyone else. Her team first her family first, and just to give
her that one last wish would be incredible for our program and our
On Friday it was announced that the game would be moved to the
larger Xavier University's Cintas Center so more people could attend.
"When Lauren's situation became known, it was obvious that she
is the personification of who the award is named for and what it
is all about," said USBWA board member and women's representative
Mel Greenberg, alluding to the legendary former Tennessee coach,
Pat Summitt, who revealed in August 2011 that she had been diagnosed
with early onset Alzheimer's disease.
Summitt received the award in 2012 at the Women's Final Four
in Denver at which time it was named after her to be part of future
honors for women's winners being cited for courage.
"This is a rarity for anyone in the lower divisions to earn an
honor from USBWA with the focus usually being on Division I individuals,"
Greenberg said. "But to be fair this season, if viable Division
I candidates surface, the plan is to still give out a Pat Summitt
honor at the Women's Final Four in Tampa next April.
"Ideally, we would like to present Lauren with her award on the
weekend or day associated with the game, if possible, but discussions
are being held with all parties to determine what setting is best
Hill also said to WKRC, describing her passion for the game,
"I love the roar of the crowd, the squeaking of the shoes. I can't
wait to be on this court and wearing No. 22."
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America
team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at
Most Courageous Award