Just 4 days before the 2014 NBA draft, Baylor center Isaiah Austin announced that he had been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome and that he could no longer play competitive basketball. Up to that point, he had been considered a first-round NBA talent, averaging 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 3.1 blocks as a sophomore for Baylor.
Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissues in the body that hold the cells and organs together. The most serious complications can include aortic aneurysm, especially at the exertion level of a professional athlete.
At the 2014 draft, NBA commissioner Adam Silver invited Austin on stage after the 15th overall pick, announcing him as a ceremonial draft pick and offering the young man a job with the league upon the completion of his degree at Baylor.
Austin, who lost his sight in his right eye due to a spontaneous retinal detachment while in middle school, kept the accident a secret beyond his close friends and teammates until his sophomore year of college. After almost two-and-a-half years, he has been medically cleared to play basketball again.
It won’t be easy to convince NBA executives that he has what it takes after being away from the game for almost three years, but there should be no doubt that Austin has the fight in him to do what it takes to play professional basketball, either domestically or overseas.
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