Henry McCollum, 51, and his half-brother Leon Brown, 47, were pardoned by Governor Pat McCrory in June. New DNA evidence cleared the brothers and pointed to another man.
"I wish my mom we here. I lost my mom in 2013 and then I got out in 2014," said McCollum. "She never got to see both of her sons walking free."
The brother spent three decades behind bars for the crime. McCollum was placed on death row.
McCollum and Brown were released in September 2014 after a judge vacated their convictions, citing new DNA evidence that points to another man in the killing and raping of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie in 1983.
McCollum had been the longest-serving inmate on North Carolina's death row. Brown had been sentenced to life in prison.
"It was misery," McCollum said. "I was scared, frightened. I have never been accused of something I never done. And plus, when they sentence you to death it's a real frightening experience."
The North Carolina Industrial Commission granted the men compensation at a hearing Wednesday. McCollum attended the hearing, Brown did not.
McCollum, who is 51, plans to get his driver's license and go back to school now that the State has been ordered to pick up the tab.
In the months since their release, both men have had trouble adjusting to the outside world after spending most of their adult lives in prison.
An attorney representing the brother, Patrick Megaro, has filed a federal civic rights lawsuit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.