MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Coming together as a unit is a key ingredient for success as a team. For the Marquette University women's basketball team, there is one thing that is not only bringing them together, but inspiring them in ways they never could have imagined.
Marquette senior Api Ojulu says she shares a special bond with her teammates, both on and off the court.
"I think there's definitely a bond. I really think we need to stay together and just begin to play hard," Ojulu said.
That bond isn't limited to those wearing a Golden Eagles uniform.
"Even if they're your enemy, your rival team -- but you just know they're going through what you're going through and that you're working for that same exact goal," Ojulu said.
Lauren Hill isn't the enemy, or even a rival of Ojulu's. She's a freshman at Mount St. Joseph in Ohio, where she plays Division III basketball. Ojulu and her teammates don't know Hill, but there's a bond.
"She has so much passion. All she wanted to do was get on that court. And for me, I really -- it really touched me because I love being on the court as well," Ojulu said.
Hill is battling a form of brain cancer that will take her life very soon. So soon -- the NCAA allowed her team to open their season early, just to make sure she could still play and get a basket.
"I went on YouTube right away and got to see clips from that. That was really touching -- the fact that she even wanted to just get on the court and she scored her two points, you know, it got me teary-eyed for her," Ojulu said.
After that game, Hill said: "Let's not call it my last game. It's my first collegiate game."
"I don't think there's a team in the country that hasn't watched her story as a team yet," Marquette Head Coach Carolyn Kieger said.
Kieger says she's touched and inspired by Hill's story.
"We showed it to the team before film session -- and literally everyone was in tears. Everyone was balling," Kieger said.
Kieger's team donated half the money raised in ticket sales for their game against UW-Green Bay to help Hill's fight.
"For them to to be able to say 'hey, Lauren thank you. This is our gesture to you.' This is really big. I know that they talked about it," Kieger said.
"She's a great athlete. She's a great person. And that's something we can do for this person," Ojulu said.
The Golden Eagles also sent Hill a Marquette jersey with her number, 22 on it.
"You know -- there's more to life than lacing up our shoes and going to play basketball. It's, it brings people together. That's what athletics does. It teaches you lessons and it teaches you what it means to be a team, what it means to pull together for someone when they're struggling," Kieger said.
"She has been a great inspiration for me just to not take anything for granted -- that there may not be another day," Ojulu said.
Hill continues to inspire as she recently sent her game-worn jersey to NFL player Devon Still, whose four-year-old daughter is battling pediatric cancer.
"I think the biggest message there is no matter what you're dealt, there's good that can be done from it. And that's your job as a human being is to make the world than when you got here. And she definitely has done that," Kieger said.
Lauren Hill is still part of the Mount St. Joseph team. CLICK HERE if you would like to help her fight.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Marquette University women's basketball team.