East honors Justin Hardy at Hoops4Hope game


Eva Bradford

The student section at Hoops4hope, many wearing the official #HardyStrong attire.

Anyone who has followed St. Charles East boys basketball in the past five years remembers “the shot” of 2018.
Or the one the year before, as a matter of fact.
Two years in a row, Justin Hardy hit electrifying buzzer-beaters to win games against rival St. Charles North. The video of his shot from senior year went viral, with hundreds of thousands of views and a feature on Australian television.
On February 8, though, Hardy was honored in the St. Charles East Hoops4Hope game for a different reason. The 21-year-old is currently playing basketball at Washington University in St. Louis, while simultaneously battling Stage 4 stomach cancer.
According to a January 16 article by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hardy received the diagnosis of gastric cancer last spring, after going to the ER for stomach pains.Since then, he has been receiving chemotherapy treatment while playing for WashU. His dominance on the court has not wavered–according to KSDK of St. Louis on January 17, Hardy is averaging 11 points a game, and has already had a 28 point game. He has had multiple dunks this season, and is part of a 15-3 WashU team that is ranked 8th nationally.
East’s annual Hoops4Hope game honored Hardy in a number of ways. To begin, East basketball Coach Patrick Woods spoke about his experience coaching Hardy, and how they stayed connected during his time in college. Hardy also spoke, and talked about how influential his experiences with basketball have been in teaching him to cope with the adversity of Stage 4 cancer.
Throughout the game, there were video montages and clips played on the board in the gym. These featured news clips about Hardy’s experience, as well as interviews with family, teammates, and even one of his doctors. Many discussed Hardy’s inspirational choice to continue playing during his treatment, even with the physical toll chemotherapy takes on his body.
At halftime, Hardy was honored with the Jodie Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award. According to a December 8 article by the Kane County Chronicle: “The purpose of the Jodie Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award is to honor the memory of Jodie Harrison, former St. Charles East athletic director, by inducting individuals into the Hall of Fame who have demonstrated lifetime qualities and accomplishments consistent with is values, character, and commitment to St. Charles High School/St. Charles East High School athletics.”
Hardy received the award due to his athletic and academic achievements at St. Charles East, which he carried forward to his time at WashU, graduating in three and a half years with a double major.
A common theme throughout the Hoops4Hope event was the hashtag used by Hardy’s family, friends and teammates to represent his fight: #HardyStrong. This hashtag was on posters throughout the gym as well as the T-Shirts sold to commemorate the event.
East played Geneva in the game. The score remained close throughout the game, with Geneva pulling off a tight 59-56 victory.