Isaiah Austin can’t catch a break
I’m not a Baylor fan. At all. In fact, I like to point at them and laugh when they lose. And throughout history, they’ve lost a lot. It’s only been in recent years that they’ve somehow managed to turn things around in basketball (both men and women) and football. When I was in college, though, we always looked at those games against Baylor as automatic W’s.
But there was one kid on Baylor’s basketball team the past couple of years that I just couldn’t seem to root against. Isaiah Austin. Dude is a 7′, versatile athlete. He could play inside and out. And, honestly, I worried about him every time OSU has played Baylor in the past two years (especially since Travis Ford refuses to recruit big men who actually have the talent to play D1 basketball). Once I learned a little about Austin’s back story, I couldn’t help but wish him all the success in the world (unless they were playing OSU).
The truth about Austin didn’t come out until sometime in 2013. For a good portion of his life, he’d had problems with one of his eyes. He had a number of surgeries to correct the problem, but he eventually lost the eye completely at age 16. Since then, he’s worn a prosthetic eye. Somehow, even without the depth perception that the average person experiences by using two eyes, Austin had committed his jumpshot to muscle memory. Despite his disability, he became one of the most heralded recruits coming out of high school.
That alone was reason enough for me to root for the kid.
With the NBA draft coming up, he was expected to be a late first round pick. Less than a week away from realizing his life-long dream of playing in the NBA, his future took a drastic turn. During his physical, doctors found that he carried a rare genetic disease called Marfan Syndrome. According to the Marfan Foundation, Marfan Syndrome affects the body’s connective tissue that holds all cells, organs and tissue together. In Isaiah’s case it’s life-threatening.
The NBA, in an understandable effort to prevent one of its athletes from dying on the court (again), couldn’t clear him to play. His NBA career ended before it ever began.
I don’t know much about Isaiah Austin. No more than what I see on TV. But I hope he finds a way to remain strong. It sucks that his dream has been dashed, but my prayer for him is that he finds some inner peace. He said in an interview shortly after learning he wouldn’t play in the NBA that “this isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.” My hope is that he wasn’t just searching for words, but truly finds a way to make this the beginning of something great. I, for one, wish him all the best.
I’ll catch you next time…