MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Freshman point guard Randi Jackson plays with pain. That’s what athletes do.

But the adversity faced by the spark plug of Robert Morris University’s women’s basketball team runs deeper than most.

Randi’s mother died of breast cancer at the age of 40. Her husband was left with a son and two daughters.

“It’s been rough,” Randi says, “but our family’s really close, really tight. And we’ve always been there for each other. So that makes it more bearable.”

She helped out by earning a full scholarship. Randi was just starting classes at Robert Morris when her dad was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

“He comes out to see me play,” she says. “He comes out to see my brother play all the time, so it doesn’t stop him from living his life and supporting us.”

Assistant Coach Chenel Harris says his daughter shares his outlook.

“She’s so helpful towards her teammates, and always trying to lift them up, even though something might be going on in her personal life,” Harris said.

The coach and player teamed up to start a fundraiser called “Hoops for Hope.”

A Steelers jersey signed by Troy Polamalu is among the prizes with raffle tickets sold at each home game.

“All of the proceeds will be donated directly toward ‘Glimmer of Hope’ and their partnership with West Allegheny Hospital,” says the coach. “And it’s going toward pre-menstrual cancer treatment.”

The entire team has had a winter of adversity. Because of injuries, they’re down to seven players.

“I went from playing 10 minutes a game to playing 35 to 40 minutes a game,” Randi says. “It was a rough adjustment, but my teammates and my coaches made it a lot easier, and helped me a lot. So I think we’re doing pretty well with that.”

When times get tough, she always remembers her mother’s advice: “Just go out there and live my life. Every day’s not promised.”

Donations to “Hoops for Hope” may be made by calling 1-800-454-6746.

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