Coach Bruce Pearl's Incredible Friendship With Young Cancer Survivor Transcends The Court

Coach Bruce Pearl's Incredible Friendship With Young Cancer Survivor Transcends The Court

College basketball coach Bruce Pearl’s incredible friendship with a young cancer survivor transcends the basketball court.

Cancer is a horrible disease. It does nothing but cause hurt and pain. It destroys and steals individuals from their families and friends. There is nothing good about the disease. 

As bad as cancer is already, it’s exponentially worse whenever it’s a childhood who receives a devastating cancer diagnosis. Those youngsters are supposed to be outside getting dirty while running around and playing with friends. They aren’t supposed to be undergoing chemotherapy and being prepped for surgery. Kids should have their childhood to be kids, not be in a fight for their life.

Sam Cunningham, as a 12-year-old, was diagnosed with leukemia. But during his cancer fight, Auburn University basketball coach Bruce Pearl recorded a video for the young man.

In the clip, Bruce gave the young man an upbeat, uplifting motivational message. Bruce informed Sam, “you’re going to be this, son,” and “cancer picked the wrong hombre.” 


Sam found both humor and strength in Bruce’s kind and encouraging words. The young man admits that he would continually draw strength from Bruce’s words during the darkest days of his battle. They kept him going and fighting.

As the clip posted on YouTube points out, Bruce and Sam eventually met and struck up a friendship. At one point, Bruce told young Sam that after he beat cancer, he would attend Auburn University and become a staff member. Flash forward a couple of years, and that is precisely what has happened.

Sam is now a freshman at Auburn, where he is the team’s manager, working alongside Bruce as promised. 

Bruce added that when he prays to God, he asks Him for Sam’s continued health and safety.

“In my prayers, it’s ‘God, don’t let this thing relapse. Take me. Let Sam live.’” Bruce said. 

What an incredible story about love, friendship, and keeping one’s word. 

Proverbs 18:24: “A man of many companions may be ruined, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

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