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Honoring Lauren Hill: one year later

Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 10, 2016

GREENDALE, Ind. -- On the first anniversary of her death, the nation is still honoring Lauren Hill and her mission to find a cure for cancer.

A street in Lauren's hometown of Greendale, Indiana, was renamed "#22 Lauren Hill Lane" on Sunday.

Family, friends and people who say Lauren inspired them are sharing memories and photos on social media, including former Bengal Devon Still. Hill and Still became comrades in arms over the last six months as the Bengals lineman guided his young daughter, Leah, through her own fight with cancer. Leah has been cancer free for almost one year.

"Her words to me about what drove her to step on that college basketball court, despite battling brain cancer, will stick with me forever and motivate me through the 'hard' times," Still wrote in an Instagram post Sunday,

After she was diagnosed with DIPG at age 18 during her senior year at Lawrenceburg High School, the Mount St. Joseph University basketball commit set out to raise awareness about her rare pediatric cancer.

Her awareness campaign evolved into a major fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $1 million for The Cure Starts Now before the end of 2014.

Watch Lauren talk about her legacy with WCPO's Tanya O'Rourke.

Lauren also had a goal to play college basketball, despite her illness.

The season opener for Mount St. Joe women's basketball drew a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 people at the Cintas Center. More than 3,000 of those in attendance were from Lawenceburg High School.

Lauren made a layup on the first and last play of the game against Hiram College.

"This game was amazing and it was amazing in every way. It's just a dream come true to play on the college level," she said at a news conference afterward. "I just wanted to play. I just love it so much. I love basketball."

Although her doctors said she would not live to see Christmas of 2014, Lauren continued to fundraise, made public appearances and even played in two more college basketball games for months after Christmas. She raised an additional $1 million for The Cure Starts Now.

Lauren died on April 10, 2015. Thousands turned out for her public visitation and memorial service at the Cintas Center.

But the tributes to Lauren didn't stop after she died; neither did her fundraising mission.

Days before her death, Lauren increased her fundraising goal to $2.2 million. Her goal was exceeded before the end of 2015.

Mount St. Joe and Hiram College -- the team Lauren played in her first collegiate basketball game -- met again at the Cintas Center to play in the Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic.

The two teams say they have a unique bond thanks to Lauren.

"There definitely is a special bond between us – one that you don't see in competitive college athletics," Hiram coach Emily Hays said of MSJ.

At the game, 5,000 fans were given Lauren Hill bobbleheads. Lauren's mom, Lisa, said Lauren would approve of the memento depicting her making a layup.

"Lauren would just truly love and be tickled with the bobblehead" said Lisa Hill, the mother of Lauren Hill. "It's just a fun, zany, little memento that they can keep around and remember Lauren and what she stood for."

The Cincinnati Cyclones also paid tribute to Lauren early in their 2015-16 season by wearing No. 22 jerseys and raising money for The Cure Starts Now.

Lawrenceburg High School wrote "Never Give Up," Lauren's motto, in the gym and decorated a display case full of Lauren's trophies, photos and a framed No. 22 jersey.

Comic book artist Matthew Swift draws Lauren Hill, one of "Cincinnati's super heroes of 2015."

On a national level, Lauren was honored posthumously at the 2015 ESPYs with the Best Moment Award. Her parents accepted the award on her behalf.

"If she were here today standing on this stage, she would ask you not to sit on the bench," Lisa Hill said on stage at the sports award show. "Please don't wait until you're personally affected by cancer to start kicking cancer's butt."

Watch the full acceptance speech here.

Lauren's headstone was finally finished on March 29, 2016. It's 5 feet 10 (Lauren's height) and has the things you'd expect out of any headstone -- Lauren's full name (her middle name was Elizabeth), her dates of birth and death, and a motto that she lived by to the end: Never give up.

"I've learned that life is really special and there's something good in every moment." -Lauren Hill

Greg Noble, Kristen Swilley and Tanya O'Rourke contributed to this report.