Basketball player

Washington U. basketball player Justin Hardy dies of cancer at age 22 | Illinois

University of Washington student-athlete Justin Hardy died Sunday morning of stomach cancer after a year of refusing to let a stage 4 diagnosis get in the way of his goals.

Diagnosed in April 2021, Hardy completed a summer internship, mentored students in the fall, graduated in December a semester early and recovered from 50 pounds of weight loss to play college basketball.

Hardy, from St. Charles, Illinois, was 22.

“After 13 months of courageously redefining what it means to live with cancer, Justin passed away peacefully early this morning,” Justin’s father, Bob, wrote on Twitter.

As recently as early April, surrounded and supported by his family, teammates and coaches, Hardy received an award in New Orleans during the Final Four weekend that recognized a year of achievement. .

Hardy was one of two athletes to receive the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Most Courageous Perry Wallace Award for refusing to let a terminal prognosis sidetrack his immediate plans.

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“If it’s not better, I don’t know what is,” he said in an ESPN article documenting his season.

Hardy gave a memorable acceptance speech in New Orleans to sum up his mental approach, which allowed him to overcome physical obstacles.

“I don’t go two or three minutes without thinking about the fact that this is my life and something that’s going to stay with me forever,” Hardy told the crowd on April 4. “But I have a lot to be grateful for, and I can’t let all this negativity consume my thoughts.

“Everything will be fine in life if you look at it with optimism. I took that to heart and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to do everything I’ve done. Here we are almost a year later, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to accomplish everything that seemed important to me.

Hardy earned a business administration degree in December while playing basketball for the Bears. He was the team’s second leading scorer and was named to the University Athletic Association first team.

Justin Hardy was able to graduate from the University of Washington in early December despite being treated for stage four stomach cancer. Photo courtesy of the Hardy family

His attack on cancer became an inspiration to a team that reached the NCAA Division III Tournament. Her sister, Jackie – also a student at the University of Washington – watched her perseverance in amazement.

“It’s just built differently,” she said in January. “I don’t know how else to describe it.”

Hardy underwent surgery last summer but recovered enough to start the basketball season in November. Soon he was able to dive again. He went through rounds of chemotherapy throughout the season but didn’t miss a game until he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Hardy would undergo chemo at the start of a week so he could recover from potential side effects to play in weekend games. As recently as early February, he scored a career-high 28 points.

At the time, Dr Haeseong Park, a University of Washington oncologist at the Siteman Cancer Center, said: ‘It’s pretty amazing that he’s still playing through all of this. It’s really unbelievable.

Eventually, Hardy had to miss games as cancer and new therapy took their toll. He entered the final game of the regular season at the Washington U. Field House in the dying seconds to a standing ovation and scored on a layup as time expired. He then missed the team’s two NCAA Tournament games.

Hardy’s story went national when ESPN documented his accomplishments. Basketball analyst Dick Vitale, who has been undergoing cancer treatment over the past year, was among sports figures to match and offer his support, as many in college basketball have done. and the NBA.

The impact he had on those in his life was reflected in New Orleans, where six current and former teammates, Washington coach Pat Juckem and high school coach de Hardy traveled to join his parents, Bob and Karen, as he accepted his award.

Visitations and a service will be held Thursday and Friday with more details to come soon. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the HardyStrong Scholarship for high school graduates.

Through cancer, University of Washington basketball player shows he's