12-year-old Warriors fan battling brain cancer meets Draymond, Steph, Durant

- A young Warriors fan recently had a tough two weeks, where he didn’t leave the house once, following the return of brain cancer that prompted a second procedure. 

Mason Ferrulli, 12, is from Ripon, a relatively small community near Modesto. But when he was leaving a doctor’s appointment in San Jose, he got news that led to a “miracle type of day.” Mason’s father, Kyle Ferrulli, got a text message from Phil Waterford, the owner of a Manteca car dealership. Waterford has ties to the Warriors and had tickets to offer Mason. And not just any tickets. Mason was going to Game 1 of the NBA Finals. 

“Mason was as excited as I’ve seen him in quite a while,” said Ferrulli. 

But there’s no way he could’ve predicted just how special the night was going to be. The number one entry on Mason’s Make a Wish list was to meet Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. And by the time they left Oracle on May 31, Curry and Green were recognized as an exceptional highlight to an expectation-exceeding night. 

Waterford learned of Mason’s struggles after he overheard a conversation the Ferrulli’s friend was having in a local nutrition store in Ripon. Waterford prayed for Mason. He stayed in contact with the family friend and heard Mason was feeling surprisingly better and had left the house for the first time in two weeks.

It happened to land on Game 1.

Waterford wanted to maximize the opportunity. And so he invited Mason to the game. The Ferrulli’s were floored. They couldn’t believe it. Mason lit up with excitement and his father was thrilled his son had something to look forward to, noting that he and Mason’s mom worried about him not feeling well at the game. Mason’s dealt with anxiety through his battle, but there was no denying that he was set on going to the game. 

“It was the best day already because it was the first day out of the house in a while and Mason was feeling great,” said Ferrulli. “And now we’re heading to a Finals game, just incredible. We couldn’t have prayed for a better day and a bigger smile on Mason’s face.”

Mason was diagnosed with ependymoma, a rare tumor, in January 2017. Following a 14-hour surgery and 35 rounds of radiation treatment at UCSF, including five months of rehabilitation and therapy, he was back to playing baseball after learning to walk again. He’d gone back to school, too. 

And then a recurrence showed during a routine scan last April. He’s since had a gamma knife procedure to hopefully remove the tumor. But until his August 6 MRI, the family will not know. 

It would be inappropriate to pretend to know exactly what Mason and his family have gone through. But it’s undoubtedly a period that requires faith, perseverance and a brand of toughness some will never know. A young boy in pain is heartbreaking. And though his experience with the Warriors was short-lived in relative terms, it reminds us that sports present the world with an opportunity to disconnect from struggles and pain and share a memorable moment with loved ones. 

Or in Mason’s case, with a new, generous friend and some idols. 

“We’re still so amazed at how genuine Phil [Waterford] is and was to us that night,” Ferrulli said. “That day was the first time we had ever met Waterford and it felt like we had known him longer.”

And so there was Mason and his father at Oracle for opening night of Basketball’s biggest stage. And there was All-Stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant hanging out with Mason after the game. Green offered him private words after a photo and Durant shook his hand post-win as confetti fell. Waterford asked if Mason was all right around this time and said it’s okay if he wants to leave.

“No, no. I’m OK,” Mason said. 

At this point, Mason had met Hall of Famer Steve Nash, spoke with Curry’s parents and Green’s dad. He sat with Queen Latifah and shook Barry Bonds’ hand. His two favorite players hung with him and he moseyed around the facility. Not to mention, he witnessed arguably the best game of the series that ended with Warriors winning in overtime. 

“Just several hours earlier we were so thankful just to get out of the house, not knowing any of this was going to happen,” Ferrulli said. “It’s the best feeling in the world to see my son happy and not thinking about anything else.”

The Ferrulli’s did not know Waterford prior to this engagement. And while Kyle Ferrulli acknowledged the tough times his family has been through while recalling the special night, he expressed overwhelming gratitude far more frequently.

“I hope he [Waterford] knows how much this meant to us. We feel it’s actually healing and the best medicine to this life-threatening disease,” Ferrulli said. “The Ferrulli family would also like to thank the many people that have prayed for Mason, donated and started fundraisers, as my wife and I have missed a lot of work.” 

If you would like to donate to the Ferrulli family, you can visit the gofundme page set up for Mason

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