An avid rugby and basketball fan, 17-year-old David loves sports. And ever since he was unexpectedly diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last year, his love of sports has been one of his biggest comforts during the toughest of times.
As he watches the basketball games on TV, he can hear the echoes of a dribbling ball, sneakers squeaking against the floor, and the swish of a shot. But his eyes follow his hero—Kevin Durant. From the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors, David has followed Kevin’s career for years.
When David and his family first began their wish journey, they were in a low place, struggling through multiple rounds of chemo and unparalleled stress. The news that David was eligible for a wish, though, was emotional and “extremely humbling,” his mother Tricia describes. Wish granters Jennifer and Will stood by the family every step of the way, offering friendship and the hope that something positive could happen in the midst of David’s illness.
Reflecting on the memory of their first meeting, Will’s eyes lights up as he remembers David “devouring” the pizza he and Jennifer had brought. Treatments often affected David’s eating habits, so it was good to see him eat. Aside from food, Will, Jennifer and David bonded over music, and, of course, sports. David told them about his love of Kevin Durant in particular.
As Jennifer and Will got to work planning David’s wish, David’s condition suddenly worsened. He was in the midst of a particularly difficult week when Jennifer called the family with the news: a spot had opened up to meet Kevin Durant! Joy lit up in David’s eyes when he found out his wish was coming true, and, with the blessing of his doctor, David was soon off to meet his hero.
David was joined by two other wish kids who had also wished to meet Kevin Durant. Their experience began with a tour of the Warriors Practice Facility, and they got to watch Kevin Durant practice shooting drills up close. When he’d finished, Kevin made his way over to introduce himself, sign autographs and take photos with David and the other wish kids.
Kevin also had a few special surprised for each of the kids, including Warriors gear and a signed basketball. And Kevin wasn’t the only one who had a gift to share—David and his family gave the team a box of Hawaii cookies, extending the aloha spirit to David’s heroes.
The players warmed Tricia’s heart as they welcomed all the wish kids, often going back to shake their hands, give high-fives and thumbs up throughout their practice. Kevin Durant left a huge impression on her during the visit when he told David the cookies were delicious. “I couldn’t believe he had actually tried them! It made him seem so down to Earth and not just a famous celebrity ball player,” she says.
Later in the afternoon, the families went over to Oracle Arena to watch the team play. During the second quarter of the game, the wish kids were even featured on the jumbotron from their front-row seats!
David wore a bright and vivacious smile the entire wish trip, and the experience gave him “a renewed zest for life,” Tricia says.
The NBA created a video of the experience, showing the power a wish has on kids and their families.
“The impact when kids get to meet their heroes…you can tell how invigorating and magical that can be for them,” Will reflects.
To see David’s smile and happiness through photos has also filled Jennifer with appreciation and gratitude that he was able to experience a wish come true. “They are such a good family—it’s definitely the heart of what we do,” she reflects.
Reflecting on David’s wish, Tricia advises other wish families to stay strong: “Smile through the pain, keep your head up, be positive for your child, listen to what their needs are, and always tell them how much you love them and that you are going to be right there with them along the journey.”