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12-Year-Old College Basketball Whiz Kid Sam Holtz Doesn’t Go Home Empty Handed

Sam Holtz, the 12-year-old from Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, made national headlines this week when he tied for first out of 11.57 million entries in the ESPN Tournament Challenge.

One of the potential prizes for those in the top 1 percent of brackets entered (about 115,700 other entries) included a $20,000 Best Buy gift card.

Sam used his dad Butch’s email address, but rules stated a Tournament Challenge contestant had to be at least 18 years old to win.

Because he wasn’t eligible to win the overall prize, Best Buy then reached out to the Holtz family and offered a $1,000 gift card to celebrate Sam’s college basketball prowess. The decision of what to do with the gift card was an easy one for the Holtz family.

On Thursday they bought an Xbox One with Kinect for Sam at the Best Buy in Kildeer. And then bought another one to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“My nephew was diagnosed with cancer at 18 months old and had a rough childhood,” Butch said, referring to his now 23-year-old nephew Alec. “At five or six years old, Make-A-Wish granted him his wish to attend Disney World. It was his first airplane ride.”

“We were all treated first class,” Butch continued. “It was a cool experience. He still has issues with the cancer periodically, but he’s doing fine. Ever since then, our family has been a big advocate of Make-A-Wish.”

While Sam was too young to experience that trip, he loves ESPN’s My Wish week on SportsCenter.“We’re all glued to whatever episode it is,” Butch said. “There’s always some really great stories. They do a great job.”