MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Among the fans watching Auburn and UVA practice on Friday were two boys who had a tough fight to get there.

Andrew Wicker is from Tallahassee, Florida.

“I love basketball, I’ve been playing for a while,” Wicker said.

And Sam Coon is from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

“It’s always been cool to watch the Final Four on TV, and I’ve always wanted to see it in person,” Coon said.

Now, Sam and his family are watching in person. Andrew’s family of eight is also watching.

“I watch all these guys on TV all the time. I mean, it’s heaven, it’s basketball heaven here,” Wicker said.

Andrew has a brain tumor – tectal glioma. Sam has been recovering from a bone marrow transplant for an autoimmune disease.

They both made the same wish in recovery – to go to the Final Four – and Make-A-Wish made their hoop dreams come true.

“A year ago, our son was cleared for surgery and our outcome was unsure, and now we’re sitting here watching him watch what he loves and it’s insane and we’re so grateful,” Wicker’s mom, Stacey, said.

Turns out, basketball was more than a distraction for both boys. It was motivation. Andrew fought hard to get back on the court, and Sam and his doctor made a game plan for survival.

“We call him coach and the way we kind of went through this whole process was through the game of basketball, so it’s kind of fitting that we could put a bow on this process by celebrating with basketball,” Coon’s father, Jeffrey, said.

And now these families who’ve found victory in healing will watch the biggest of wins.

“Yeah, it’s life changing.  It will be hard to forget,” Wicker said.

The boys will go to Fan Fest, Mall of America and attend all three games at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield