Stapleton, survived by her husband, Christopher, will be remembered in Aiken as a basketball player, basketball coach and a friend to many.
During her career at USC Aiken from 2005-09, the shooting guard set school career records with 1,480 points and 311 3-pointers. Stapleton also set single-season marks for consecutive free throws made (45) and best three-point field goal percentage (.475).
She also owns the Peach Belt Conference career records in free throw percentage (.882) and three-point field goal percentage. A two-time all-Peach Belt selection, she was later inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
“Watching Meredith grow and mature into a young woman was a blessing to me,” Pacers coach Mike Brandt said in a statement. “She carried her competitiveness, fight, attitude and strong will right off the court and onto the battle field as she competed with cancer.
“The Pacer family will truly miss Meredith and we appreciate the fact that she was a major part in taking our program to a level never achieved before.”
Stapleton grew up in West Virginia and North Carolina before making a home in Aiken. After graduating in 2009, she worked as a financial analyst at URS Corp. before working at HNTB (outside of Charlotte, N.C.) as a project analyst. Also, she coached three seasons at Mead Hall Middle School, leading the girls team to a 36-6 record and two consecutive Aiken-Augusta Private School (Division 2) titles.
Stapleton also attended St. John’s United Methodist Church in Aiken before getting married to Christopher in October 2012 and moving to North Carolina. Before her marriage, Stapleton taped an episode of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, which was broadcast last year.
“The community’s made it special for me. It’s a sense of home,” Stapleton said about Aiken in a 2012 interview with The Augusta Chronicle. “As much as I’ve moved, it’s the first place I can call home.”
Stapleton’s home became one big support group after she was diagnosed April 13, 2009 with uveal melanoma, which was found in her left eye. Doctors eradicated the tumor, but a new problem emerged in May 2010. A routine PET scan revealed a spot on her liver. She received radiosphere treatment during the summer.
In February 2011, doctors discovered six tiny lesions on her liver. She needed 12 immunoembolization and chemoembolization treatments during the year. As she continued her battle against cancer, Stapleton brought awareness to melanoma when she taped a video for YouTube titled “Dear 16-year-old Me.” It had been viewed by almost seven million people as of Monday.