While the 98-72 loss was not the outcome the Indiana Fever was hoping for Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Chicago Sky, the Fever organization, both teams and fans in attendance had a lot to be proud of.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Fever Honor Lauren Hill
Sunday was Lauren Hill Tribute Day, an event focused on celebrating the memory of the Indiana native and college basketball player who inspired people around the world with her courage and strength in the face of terminal brain cancer. Hill passed away on April 10, but not before she realized her dream of playing college basketball at Mount Saint Joseph University and worked to raise money to help find a cure.
PHOTO GALLERY: Lauren Hill Day
Hill’s family, including parents Lisa and Brent Hill, was in attendance and took part in a pregame ceremony on the court where a tribute video from Fever head coach Stephanie White and several Fever players was shown on the arena’s video boards. Hill received her own Fever uniform with her No. 22 on it, which was placed on an empty seat on the Fever bench for the game’s entirety.
The Fever organization, particularly White and players Tamika Catchings and Shavonte Zellous, heard of Hill’s story in the fall, and the two players were in attendance for Hill’s college basketball debut in November.
“The Fever have been amazing,” Hill’s mother said during halftime. “I think it’s sad that Lauren isn’t here today to be able to see the ladies play.”
The Cure Starts Now Foundation hosted a pregame silent auction featuring Fever and Indiana Pacers memorabilia, raising $1,800. The foundation also sold Lauren Hill t-shirts and trading cards throughout the Main Concourse, with all proceeds going straight to the foundation’s efforts for funding cancer cure research. In addition, the Fever’s BeYOUnique Fund, a grant fund of the Pacers Foundation, Inc., donated $300 for each layup made by both teams during the game; the Fever and Sky’s 32 combined layups amounted to $9,600, all of which was also donated to The Cure Starts Now.
All participants were moved by the events and Hill’s story, and members from both teams indicated after the game that they realized Sunday was about more than a basketball game.
“Tonight we wanted to come out and play for something bigger than ourselves,” Fever guard Shenise Johnson said.
“She touched everyone,” Sky forward Elena Delle Donne, who donated a pair of signed shoes for the silent auction, said after the game. “We just want to continue her legacy and make sure nobody ever forgets the impact that she had and how incredible she was, the fighter that she was.”
White was visibly emotional when she spoke about Lauren and her family’s legacy at her postgame press conference.
“You see a kid and a family who embraced the toughest challenge of their lives and who really utilized the sport we all love to impact those around us,” White said. “It really taught me a lot of life lessons about the bigger picture and what’s really important.”