Hill Honoring His Mother’s Memory On and Off the Court

Jordan Hill doesn’t have many memories of his mother.

He does have what he calls a recurring “flashback” of her being rushed to the hospital and him riding with her in the back of the ambulance. He stops short of calling that a memory, though, because older relatives have no recollection of it happening.

Hill was just three years old when he lost his mother, Carol, to breast cancer.

But while he doesn’t have many memories of her, he does remember her in so many ways.

Each time the Pacers center takes the floor, Carol Hill is right there with him.

“Every time I’m on the line at the national anthem, I’m praying, asking her to watch over me,” Hill said.

“‘Big game tonight, watch over me.’”

And whenever he buries his steel-like left shoulder into a defender’s chest before rising up for a hook shot or a thunderous dunk, Carol Hill is there, too. Literally.

Emblazoned on that shoulder is a tattoo Hill got when he was in high school. It’s a simple reminder of his driving purpose behind every jump shot, every box out. The tattoo is a basketball with his mother’s first name on it, the year she was born, the year she died, and a short message:

“In Loving Memory. Doing it for You.”

Losing his mother at such an early age had a profound impact on Jordan Hill’s childhood. His father was a cross-country truck driver who would be gone for week-long trips. After his mother passed away, his father tried to find a job closer to home, but that proved to be a struggle.

Hill and his older brother and sister bounced around as children, spending time living with both their father and their grandmother in South Carolina. Life was never easy.

“Seen it all, been through it all,” Hill recalled. “Been kicked out of a house, been kicked out of an apartment. Evictions. Times that I couldn’t eat or I had to find food just to survive.”

Through the years, Hill couldn’t help but wonder how things might have been different if his mother hadn’t gotten sick.

“It was definitely tough,” Hill said. “It could have been better. I know if she was here, she would have (made it) better.

“I heard so many stories about how she was a family-oriented woman, she cared for her kids and cared for everybody. When I see videos of her, I can tell that it definitely would have been a better life for me, my brother, and my sister.”

But Hill and his siblings persevered and he eventually found an outlet to a better life through basketball.

Carol Hill only knew him as a toddler, but her youngest son grew into a giant of a man. Standing 6-foot-10 and blessed with exceptional athleticism, Hill’s prowess on the basketball court earned him a scholarship to the University of Arizona, where he played under the legendary Lute Olson. He was a third-team All-American as a junior, when he averaged 18.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.

KNOW YOUR GOLD: Get to Know Jordan Hill »

The New York Knicks drafted him with the eighth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and he has emerged as a dependable low-post scorer over the course of seven NBA seasons. Now measuring at 6-10, 235 pounds, Hill’s size and relentless effort have made him a valuable commodity, a post player capable of putting up big numbers in the blink of an eye.

Though he has only started a handful of games in his first season with the Pacers, Hill ranks second on the team with nine double-doubles.

All the while, Hill has always remembered his mother and her fight with breast cancer. His family has helped in that regard, sending him photos and videos and telling stories to make sure her presence is always fresh in his mind. There’s one video he’s watched so many times he lost count.

“I see she’s holding me and it brings tears to my eyes every time because we’re smiling…” Hill recalled before his voice trailed off.

Jordan Hill was too young at first to understand why his mother died. It wasn’t until he was about seven or eight that he started to understand what the word “cancer” meant. In Carol Hill’s case, her breast cancer eventually metastasized to her lungs.

At a very early age, Hill made up his mind that he wanted to get involved with breast cancer charities and support groups. When he reached the NBA, he realized that he suddenly had a bigger platform to make a wider impact.

After he was traded to Houston in 2010, Hill got involved with a non-profit called The Rose whose mission is to provide breast cancer screening, diagnostics, and treatment.

Hill knows firsthand the importance of screening and early detection. His sister has had a few scares, finding lumps that turned out to be benign, and his stepmother is a breast cancer survivor.

When he was traded to the Lakers in 2012, Hill teamed up with the Los Angeles branch of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. He took on a role as an ambassador, both participating in and sponsoring teams in the local “Race for the Cure” and holding fundraisers.

After he signed with the Pacers, Hill immediately got involved with Susan G. Komen Central Indiana.

He is sponsoring a 20-person Pacers team for the 2016 Central Indiana “Race for the Cure,” which will be held on April 16 at the Historic Military Park at White River State Park.

RACE FOR THE CURE: Register or Donate for the Local Race on April 16 »

He hosted members of that team — including a large contingent of breast cancer survivors — at Monday night’s game against Philadelphia, buying out a suite for them. IndyCar driver Pippa Mann, another strong local advocate with Susan G. Komen, also was among those who joined the group.

After the game, Hill held a meet-and-great with the group on the TCU Practice Court. For him, that’s the most rewarding part of the work he does in the local community.

“Meeting fans, meeting breast cancer survivors – these people are moms, sisters, aunts, grandmothers that have got to live with this,” Hill said. “I just want them to know that you’re not in it alone.”

Whenever he meets with survivors, the bruising bully on the court turns into a big teddy bear, handing out hugs and greeting everyone with a smile.

And somewhere up above, I like to think that Carol Hill is also smiling, knowing that her son is honoring her memory in such a wonderful way.

© 2013 - BDA Sports Management | Design by SteveWare Labs
Wordpress Themes
Scroll to Top