Lauren Hill: Public Pays Tribute To Inspirational Teen Who Died Of Cancer

Five months ago, the crowd roared inside Xavier’s Cintas Center as college baller Lauren Hill opened a basketball game with a left-handed layup. Last Monday, the same arena was opened not for a game but for a public memorial service for Hill. This time, the crowd didn’t roar. Sobs and cries were heard on the floor as people including friends and admirers bade Hill their final goodbye.

Hill’s gray, metal casket was brought by a hearse to the arena. It was wheeled into the 10,000-seat basketball arena and placed at the very spot where the young athelete made her first basket in a Division III game on November 2.

Her casket was kept closed and topped with an array of white, pink and purple roses. Family photos also surrounded Hill’s casket and one of them featured her in a cape. On the same picture, there was also a quote from actor Christopher Reeve about what a hero truly is. The quote said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Hill’s remains were initially taken into an upstairs conference room where the public can pay their final respects. Later, the casket was moved down to the arena for the memorial service which lasted for an hour. The backboard and basket were off to the side with the attached game clock. On the shot clock, participants of the ceremony can see the number 22 which was her jersey number.

The memorial service was a heartbreaking event. Hill’s coach Dan Benjamin kissed her gray jersey goodbye before placing it over her casket. In the crowd, her former teammates were in tears as they sat on folding chairs. The rest of the crowd was solemnly silent. Hill’s favorite tunes were used throughout the memorial service. The ceremony opened with the second song on her playlist, a James Taylor track entitled “You’ve Got a Friend.” Katy Perry’s “Roar” was then played at the end of the service. To commemorate Hill’s special moment at the Xavier’s Cintas Center, a video of her memorable layup was also shown during the ceremony. The clip showed the last 17 seconds into Mount St. Joseph’s 66-55 win against Hiram College where Hill managed to pull off a right-handed layup despite her condition.

During the last few months of her life, Hill devoted her life to raising funds for a pediatric cancer research. She was able to raise an estimated amount of $1.5 million.

[Image via Getty Images]