Many kids only dream of hanging out with their favorite athletes. For 13-year-old Tucker Dupont, it was a wish come true. If anyone deserves a stretch of good fortune, it’s him.
Dupont hasn’t had an easy childhood. At only two months of age, the Waconia, Minnesota native was diagnosed with stenosis of the aortic valve, and at six, he had his first of several open heart surgeries.
A life-long sports fan, Dupont had no intention to let his condition interfere with his dream of becoming a professional athlete. Despite his surgeries, he played basketball and baseball as if nothing was wrong. That all changed when a 2011 hospital stay gave Tucker and his parents the news he had long feared—he was told he had to stop playing contact sports.
A tearful Dumont expressed to the interviewer for ESPN’s “My Wish” segment how badly that pained him, as if the torment of not being able to play was more of a burden on his heart than any valve malfunctions.
“It was sad. It was so sudden. I wasn’t expecting it.”
What he also wasn’t expecting was an invitation from golfer Rory McIlroy, the 23-year-old Northern Irish pro who was ranked as the top golfer in the world as recently as April 2012, asking him to hang out at a practice round for the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
Dupont and his parents then made the trip down to Ohio to hang out with Tucker’s hero, where he was first greeted by legendary golfer Jack Nicholas and given access to his press conference. After taking in some wisdom, the moment he was waiting for finally happened.
For the next few hours, he and McIlroy hit some balls using the new clubs he received as a gift from his golf idol. After receiving some tips on his swing, Tucker got a picture with the man he drove across the Midwest to see.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect day. Despite all the surgeries, there was only warmth in Tucker Dupont’s heart that day.
- For the video, visit ESPN.com