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College hoops star Justin Hardy dead after inspirational battle with stomach cancer

New York Post
New York Post
 2022-05-30

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Justin Hardy, who inspirationally played college basketball while battling stomach cancer, died Sunday at the age of 22, his family announced on social media.

“After 13 months of courageously redefining what it means to live with cancer, Justin passed peacefully early this morning, Sunday, May 29,” Bob Hardy, Justin’s father, wrote on Twitter .

Hardy played at Washington University in St. Louis, an NCAA Division III institution, and worked toward a double-major in accounting and finance while undergoing treatments for Stage 4 cancer. Hardy’s story went viral after he was spotlighted on ESPN’s College GameDay.

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Justin Hardy, an inspiring basketball player at Washington University, died Sunday after a battling stomach cancer
Jackie Hardy/ Facebook
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Justin Hardy played basketball while undergoing cancer treatments
ESPN/ SportsCenter Featured

“This is me living my life regardless of the circumstances,” Hardy said at the time. “If this isn’t beating it, I don’t know what is.”

Given an initial prognosis of 12-18 months after diagnosis, Hardy averaged 11.1 points in 23 minutes per game over 21 games last season. His final on-court appearance was on Feb. 26.

“In place of flowers, we encourage donations to the #HardyStrong GoFundMe,” Bob Hardy wrote. “The funds will be used for medical & memorial expenses, with the majority put towards the HardyStrong Scholarship – a fund for high school graduates competing athletically in college who share Justin’s grit, determination, and all-around excellence.”

Washington University released a statement following Hardy’s death:

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Justin Hardy’s inspirational story was featured on ESPN
ESPN/ SportsCenter Featured
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Justin Hardy’s family released a statement in the wake of his passing on Sunday, May 29, 2022
Jackie Hardy/ Facebook

“Our deepest condolences go out to Justin Hardy’s family on his passing. We are devastated by this loss but comforted by the manner in which he lived his life.

“Justin’s love for the game of basketball, competition and his teammates made him truly special. We were fortunate to be brought along on his journey. He showed us what it means to be others focused – what it means to be a great teammate.

“Justin taught us many lessons including how to deal with adversity and what winning really means. We have the awesome responsibility to carry forward his legacy of relentless positivity. To respond to even the toughest of circumstances with the strength and courage that Justin did. In his own words: ‘If you want to win, just give me the ball.'”

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Justin Hardy averaged 11.1 points in 23 minutes per game over 21 games last season. His final on-court appearance was on Feb. 26.
ESPN/ SportsCenter Featured

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2021, built a relationship with Hardy.

“I had been texting the last month with Justin & he wanted so badly to be at our [Jimmy V Foundation] Gala but unfortunately it was impossible for him to make the trip,” Vitale wrote on Facebook, mentioning that Hardy’s coach stood in for him as he was honored for his courage. “Our prayers go out to Justin’s Mom & Dad.”

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