Former Baylor University hoops star Isaiah Austin is an inspiration. At the age of 16 he suffered a detached retina leaving him completely blind in one eye, but that didn’t deter him from becoming a top NBA prospect after a stellar career at Baylor. That in itself would have been an amazing story, but sometimes what is truly amazing is how a guy like Austin responds to the adversity that is placed in front of him.
When he suffered the eye injury at age 16 that was something he could overcome. He could learn to dribble, shoot, rebound and catch passes despite being blind in one eye. He worked relentlessly at not only being able to do it, but to become elite at it so that he could compete at basketball’s highest level one day.
During the 2013-14 season the 7’1, 225 center paced the Baylor Bears with 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 blocks a game. He was a force down low that NBA team’s flocked to see, and desperately wanted as a part of their franchise. By all accounts, the hard work had paid off and his dream was about to come true.
At the NBA combine he performed superbly on the court, showing the scouts everything they want to see out of a big man. But when it came time for the medical testing portion of the combine, something wasn’t right. As part of a comprehensive exam the league performs an EKG to assure each athlete’s heart is healthy prior to entering the league. When it came to Austin’s EKG, the results showed that despite superb play on the court, entering the league would not be an option.
With just one week left before the draft, an MRI on Austin’s heart revealed a slightly enlarged aortic artery leading to him being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a potentially life-threatening genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. In one moment all of Austin’s dreams of playing basketball in the NBA were gone.
It was a devastating moment for Austin when he heard the news. He became very emotional as any athlete would that had worked so hard to become truly elite at their sport. But when he gathered himself he realized that he was still a son, still a brother, and still a role model in the community, and that he could still do great things to inspire and help out those in need.
That’s where his new story begins. On Monday, October 13 basketball fans from all over Waco, Texas showed up to hear Austin speak about his adversity, his career, and what he plans to do with his life going forward at the Hoops for Hopes banquet at Highland Baptist Church. With a personal story filled with struggles and triumph, Austin hopes to inspire others through his words, actions, and attitude.
“Whatever they are going through, whatever adversity they are facing, they can get through it with a positive attitude and God on their side,” said Austin. “The most important thing I want to take away from here is to connect with the community that’s supported me through all of this.”
Despite his condition the future for Austin is bright. His story and attitude while dealing with unbelievable adversity has given him a testimony that will inspire all those that have a chance to meet him and hear him speak. He may not be an NBA star, but he’s still a star in the hearts of all those that know him.
If your company is interested in finding out booking fees and availability for a Basketball Celebrity like Isaiah Austin or other sports celebrities for an Autograph Session, Product Endorsement, Advertising Campaign, VIP Meet and Greet or Guest Appearance contact Isaiah Austin’s booking agent, call us at 1.888.246.7141, or start your athlete booking request.
Watch Isaiah Austin Honored by the NBA 2014 NBA Draft: