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‘It’s Pretty Amazing to Me’: Longtime Friends Learn They’re Half Brothers After Genetic Testing



Walter Gordy III described his childhood as a happy one, although growing up as an only child, he always wanted siblings.

It turned out he had one all along.

After being diagnosed with lymphoma at age 33, Gordy took a genetic tests through biotechnology company 23andMe to learn more about his medical history and was shocked to discover that he and his longtime friend, Mark Tolson, were actually half brothers.

Walter Gordy and Mark Tolson
Walter Gordy (right) and Mark Tolson have been friends for 12 years and had no idea that they were half siblings. (TODAY / video screenshot)

Tolson, who was curious about his own ancestry, had also taken a 23andMe test and was the one who made the startling discovery.

“I saw a part that said DNA relatives, so I clicked on that,” he told “Today.” “It popped up and it said Walt Gordy III, and I said, ‘Mom, I know him! I know him!’”

Tolson wasted no time phoning Gordy to tell him the exciting news, which came as a total shock to both men.

“I said, ‘Man, I’ve been knowing you for 12 years,’” Gordy recalled of their conversation. “‘Are you telling me we’re brothers?’”

“Thirty-five years later, I find out I have a brother. So that’s pretty amazing to me,” said Tolson.

It turns out the men’s mothers say they were impregnated via artificial insemination and had unknowingly chosen the same donor. Like Gordy and Tolson, the women have known each other for years and even sing in the same church choir.

Gordy’s mother, Booker Lynne Graves, said she was stunned by the news, but then felt grateful that her son had discovered a new part of himself.

“We’ve always prayed that he would find that fraternal part of him,” Graves said. “And we truly look at it as a blessing from God because our prayers were answered. It’s just a beautiful joy to both of them that they have one another the rest of their lives.”

After nine months of treatment, Gordy is now cancer free but said he’s grateful for the disease because he wound up with a blessing in the end: his brother.

Watch more in the video below.

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