JUSTIN HARDY (posthumous)
In 2018, Justin Hardy stepped on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. where he would excel as a student-athlete playing on the Division III nationally ranked men's basketball team. He was named Rookie of the Year. In 2020, his sophomore season was cut short by COVID, and his junior season was canceled altogether.
In the spring of 2021, while in the best shape of his life he woke to a horrible stomach pain. He was told he had a perforated ulcer and underwent surgery. Following surgery, doctors told him they found cancer. On April 22, 2021, after pathology tests, Hardy was officially diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. He had about 18 months to live.
Hardy received radiation and chemotherapy treatment to battle the cancer. He went from 215 pounds to 165 pounds. No one thought there was a chance for Hardy to play again, but things went differently. In October of 2021 he was practicing with the team, in November he was starting, and in December he was dunking. On February 1, 2022, he learned the cancer spread to the lining of his colon. Five days later he tied a career-high of 28 points.
Hardy told ESPN, "There is no cure for stage four stomach cancer right now, and I'm being put into this game that I, in theory, I have zero chance of winning."
Hardy died on Sunday, May 30. He was 22 years old, but his soul will never leave the court.