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Vol. 55, No. 4 • May 2018 • .pdf version
Lauren Hill family gives Marz emotional boost
By JAMES FULLER / New Haven Register
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Four teams arrived at Nationwide Arena all with the same dream of leaving Ohio with a national championship. However, hours before the first basket was score or first rebound was secured, there was a reminder that some things are more important than even the pursuit of the national title.
Avery Marz played in 21 games during the 2017-18 season after a stroke forced the former high school classmate of former UConn linebacker Junior Joseph to miss three seasons with Saint Joseph's University.
Marz knew it was going to be a special day when she received the United States Basketball Writers Association's Most Courageous Award, but when the parents of 2014 winner Lauren Hill walked onto the stage and hugged Marz, there wasn't a dry eye among the audience consisting of All-Americans, high school, AAU and college coaches and administrators and media.
"It was emotional. My heart started pumping crazily up there," Marz said. "I am just so blessed that they were going to do this for me because they went out of their way and came here. I am so happy for it."
Of all the wonderful words uttered about Marz on Friday, none probably struck closer to home more than Lauren Hill's mother Lisa saying, "She reminds me a lot of Lauren."
Brent Hill echoed his wife's sentiments.
"We support Avery for having the courage to overcome her (health issues) and get herself back in one piece so could play the game again," Brent Hill said. "It just gave butterflies in my stomach when I heard she was coming, it was such an honor to be able to present this and be here with Avery and have Lauren's story touch Avery was amazing. It really just stuck in our heart."
Doctors told Marz she would never play basketball again, a diagnosis that did not deter her. It was similar to how Lauren Hill, while fighting with the cancer that would claim her life at the age of 19, realized her dream of stepping back on the basketball court.
"Just seeing Lauren's story, how it impacted me, I think looking back on it I knew that if I could do this, I could also impact others," Marz said. "That is important, I am only one person and hope I can affect a whole lot of people.
"I would say at times there were struggles, at times it was amazing. I think it goes back and forth between the two a lot."
Video shot by her mom of Avery running proved to be a reminder to her of how much she had to overcome to make it back onto the court.
"Seeing how slow and uncoordinated I was, that was a hard day for me," Marz said. "People said you were going to get there, but seeing it for myself and how uncoordinated I was, that was a hard day for me."
Marz knows her story, much like Hill's, is a farreaching one. The impact of Lauren's valiant fight to save her life can be felt to this day.
"How amazing is that?" said Brent Hill when asked about how Marz held it together emotionally in her statement after receiving the award. "That speaks for sports, the drive that they have in sports that keeps them going. Tons of pride, she (his daughter) continues to make tons of money for charity. We have events all the time; she is probably pushing $2.5 or 3 million at this point in charity, all in her name. That this small town girl from a town in Indiana was able to do something like that, it is just amazing."
Reprinted with permission from the New Haven Register.
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