Justin Hardy, Who Played College Basketball through Cancer Treatment, Passes Away

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“If you want to win, just give me the ball” – Justin Hardy

Justin Hardy, who continued to play basketball for Washington University in St. Louis despite a stomach cancer diagnosis, passed away on Sunday. He was just 22.

Hardy first received the devastating stage 4 cancer diagnosis back in April 2021. At the time, he was given 12-18 months to live. However, Hardy did not use his limited time as an excuse to check out of his responsibilities or his desire to grow and learn as a person. He continued to pursue a double-major in accounting and finance.

And he continued his obligation to his teammates and himself and kept suiting up for Washington U, a Division III which competes in the University Athletic Association conference. He averaged 11.1 points and 23 minutes per game last season.

(all photos courtesy of New York Post)

He last appeared on the court on February 26.

Many in the sports world became familiar with Hardy when his story was featured on College GameDay on ESPN last fall. He also paired up with college basketball broadcast legend Dick Vitale, who has suffered through cancer lately himself. Vitale paid tribute to Hardy on Facebook:

“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. Our prayers go out to Justin’s Mom & Dad.”

Washington University also released a statement:

“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.’”

The family has requested donations to the #HardyStrong GoFundMe drive in lieu of flowers. They say that some of the money raised will be used for remaining medical and funeral expenses, but that the rest will go towards the HardyStrong Scholarship “for high school graduates competing athletically in college who share Justin’s grit, determination, and all-around excellence.”

By all accounts, Justin Hardy was hardy indeed, a fearless and determined young man who left this world far too soon. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies for Justin’s family, friends, and teammates.


Written by Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil has a PhD in Shakespearean drama but now spends her days reading and writing about her first passion: sports. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.

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