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'This has been his dream' | ETSU basketball players help Elizabethton boy's wish come true

Basketball has given Levi a sense of normalcy, which is pivotal for him. Levi's life is anything but normal.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Elizabethton 12-year-old Levi Fisher had one wish.

Having a basketball court in his own backyard.

With cooperation from community leaders, Levi's wish came true, with help from Make-a-Wish East Tennessee.

"It's very cool," said Levi after stepping foot on the completed basketball court. "I was excited about it because I've been waiting for it for a long time. It finally got done."

Basketball has given Levi a sense of normalcy, which is pivotal for him. Levi's life is anything but normal.

Three years ago, Levi started experiencing rapid growth spurts. Doctors performed tests and discovered he had a rare brain tumor, ganglioglioma.

Levi's mom, Tammany Markland, said their lives changed rapidly.

"Within a couple days, we had to be in Memphis," Markland said. "We were there for a few weeks to get all the testing. It was an emotional ride." 

Levi was placed on chemotherapy two times a day. 

During the past three years, he has had one safe haven: basketball.

"He's played since we was little," Markland said. "He's loved it. It's always been his go-to. It helps him. He comes out here when he's mad or upset."

Levi now has the ultimate home-court advantage. 

On Friday, his home floor debuted with help from the ETSU men's and women's basketball teams.

Credit: WCYB

Players played mini-games with Levi and gave him pointers.

"We heard about his story and what he's been going through. We wanted to come out here and have a nice day with him and shoot some hoops," said ETSU guard Jordan King. 

Courtney Moore, a guard on the ETSU women's basketball team, said this experience taught her to not take life for granted. 

"It just makes you want to go harder each and every day," Moore said. "He wants to do the things we're doing. He's fighting the hard fight, and I'm glad we're able to be here and do it with him." 

Although Levi isn't old enough to play on ETSU's basketball team quite yet, he at least got a taste of college basketball right in his backyard -- even if it was just for one day.

"To see him chit-chatting with them like he's their best friend, and them do the same and treat him like this, this is what he was wanting," Markland said. "This has been his dream for sure."  

Markland said Levi's tumor is inoperable and he goes in for regular checkups.

In addition to ETSU players coming to play with Levi on Friday, they've also invited him to a basketball game this upcoming season.

"I am thankful that they took time out of their day to come play basketball with me," said Levi.

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