Lauren Hill, basketballer who bravely played on despite brain tumor, passes away at 19

(Lauren Hill's motto after her terminal diagnosis was "Never Give Up")(Photo: Facebook/Lauren's Fight for Cure)

Lauren Hill, the teenage basketballer who inspired Americans with her determination to play - and smile - to the end despite an incurable brain tumor has died at the age of 19.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) player from Indiana was diagnosed 16 months ago with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an inoperable brain cancer.  

Despite the grim diagnosis, the college freshman continued to play for Mount St Joseph University and adopted the motto "Never Give Up". 

She was delighted to make it to the end of the season last month and picked up the Governor's Courage Award for her efforts.

"Day by day I hope my message has resided through everyone... that it's precious every amount of time you get with someone, no material item matters," she told WKRC-TV on Tuesday.

"Every moment you get with someone is a moment that is blessed, really blessed."

Tributes have been paid to the basketballer on Twitter following news of her death on Friday.  

University of Cincinnati president Santa J. Ono praised Hill as someone who "inspired us all".  

"You were a gift from God.  An angel in our midst.  RIP," he tweeted.  

The NCAA commented: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lauren Hill.  Her courage will never be forgotten." 

Hill never lost her faith in spite of her struggle against the brain tumor and last December revealed that it was her faith that was getting her through her ordeal.  

"Why does this happen to me?" she asked in a USA Today interview. "Why does it happen to anybody? I believe God has the last say. And I feel like I've accomplished what I intended."

Following her diagnosis, Hill went on to raise over $500,000 for DIPG research, and devoted her remaining months to God.

"Last January, I said to God I'll do anything to be a voice for this cancer and all the kids that can't speak their symptoms," she explained.

"Parents are left baffled, because they don't know what's wrong with their kids. (Kids) can't express what's happening to them." 

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