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'How can you not be moved?': Battling stage 4 stomach cancer, WashU's Justin Hardy inspires on senior night

"It was really, really special that WashU did this for me today," Hardy said. "Man, oh man. How can you not be moved?"

ST. LOUIS — The Washington University Bears capped off their 2021-2022 season with a win over Chicago on Saturday at the Field House. But that win was a footnote on an emotional day for the Bears and their inspirational senior.

Senior guard Justin Hardy has scored 928 points in his WashU career. But the two he scored on Saturday were more special than most.

Hardy has been battling stage 4 stomach cancer since last April but has continued to play with the Bears.

RELATED: Hardy Strong: WashU athlete plays on while battling Stage 4 stomach cancer

However, his health had declined recently, and he had been forced to miss the last three games.

"I started a new treatment, and got wiped pretty hard physically," Hardy said.

"It's been a physically and emotionally-draining past few weeks," Hardy's dad, Bob, said.

But on Saturday, Hardy wasn't going to miss his senior night.

Hardy received the Robert Pearce Award for effort and commitment, and every person in attendance, even the opposing team, got "Hardy Strong" shirts to wear.

Then, when WashU pulled away late, Hardy got the chance to check into the game. He took a pass down low, and netted a layup as everyone in the Field House, including the entire Chicago team, cheered him on.

The standing ovation lasted while he ran back on defense and embraced opponent Bryce Hopkins as the game ended.

"It was really, really special that WashU did this for me today. Man, oh man. How can you not be moved?" Hardy said.

His time as a WashU Bear isn't over yet, though. The team made the NCAA Division III tournament and will host the first two rounds.

"Basketball is kind of my escape. And when this is over it's going to be a gut check back to reality of what's going on but we're going to let this ride as long as possible," Hardy said.

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