Former St. Charles East basketball standout remembered for 'relentless positivity'
Former St. Charles East basketball standout Justin Hardy has died after being diagnosed with stomach cancer 13 months ago, according to a statement posted by his family on Twitter.
Hardy was 22 years old.
"After 13 months of courageously redefining what it means to live with cancer, Justin passed peacefully early this morning, Sunday, May 29th," said a statement posted on Justin's father Bob Hardy's personal account.
A visitation is planned for 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 2, at Yurs Funeral Home, 1771 W. State St., Geneva. A legacy celebration is set for 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, in the main gym at St. Charles East High School, 1020 Dunham Road. Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite jersey or team apparel, as per Hardy's wishes.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the #HardyStrong GoFundMe; proceeds will be used for a scholarship set up in Hardy's honor.
Hardy was the 2018 Kane County Chronicle Boys Basketball Player of the Year. His game-winning three-point shot to stun St. Charles North that season went viral on Twitter.
After graduation, he went on to play at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was an ambassador and source of inspiration for playing college basketball even while being treated for cancer. Hardy scored a collegiate career-high 28 points in February.
Hardy's story garnered national attention and was profiled by ESPN earlier this year.
St. Charles East hosted "Hoops for Hope" in his honor on Feb. 8 and raised thousands of dollars through the GoFundMe.
"Grab the things you do in your life; just love it and dive into it fully ‚" Hardy said that evening. "You'll get those relationships back out of it. I've seen St. Charles come together for some pretty tough times before. We always rally behind whatever it is."
"It's awesome to see you guys rally behind me tonight ... the letters you have sent me, text messages, the old people emailing -- that's cool, too," which drew laughter. "The support has been unwavering and it's what's gotten me through the past 10 months. I'm going to thank you in advance for the support I know you're going to give me for the next 10 months: next, two, five, 10 years to come."
Washington University basketball coach Pat Juckem released a statement Sunday, expressing his condolences.
"Our deepest condolences go out to Justin's family on his passing," Juckem said in the statement. "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."
" ... Justin taught us many lessons, including how to deal with adversity and what winning really means," the statement continued. "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.'"