Isaiah Austin Rumors

All NBA Players

Isaiah Austin
Isaiah Austin
Position: None
Born: 10/25/93
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:210 lbs. / 95.3 kg.
Isaiah Austin: Dad got me into the guest bathroom and closed the door as Mom stood outside praying. There was a lot of praying that night. When the door closed, Dad grabbed me and hugged me. That was the moment when the shock began to go away a little bit. I didn’t have any words. All that was left were tears. My dream had died out there. It died in the form of some blood test in Chicago. It was gone with a report on a piece of paper and a phone call. I don’t remember saying much in those moments alone with my dad. He prayed and we cried together. I began to think about all of the things God had done in my life in moments when I felt like I couldn’t go on. I thought about Mom praying over me late into the night after each of those eye surgeries. I thought about the hope that grew with each surgery and the discouragement I felt every time we received the news that I would need another one.
Isaiah Austin: I had always been able to overcome. I had always been equipped to outwork the challenges that had come my way. Now, I couldn’t even get to my feet on my own. But Ben was there, like he had always been. I thought of Fresno; I thought of God bringing him into my life. I thought of my mom with her prayers and wisdom. I still couldn’t look up, but I could hear her softly crying in the background. I could feel the people in the room moving toward me. I still wanted to escape. I wanted to run out of the house and begin the whole night again. I wanted to hit the reset button on my Xbox and start the game over. This moment in my life should’ve been a celebration. Instead it felt like a funeral. In a lot of ways, it was a funeral. My dream was there on the floor, fighting for its last breath. In a matter of minutes, my life had changed for the worse. I felt Dad grabbing me by my shoulders and lifting me up. The room was still spinning.
Isaiah Austin: It was hard to hear at first that I should be thankful for something that was taking my dream away. But he explained that this discovery had actually saved my life. If they hadn’t identified the problem through the blood work and with the aortic enlargement in my heart, I could’ve easily died playing basketball. This diagnosis was saving my life. We had a lot of conversations that night about well-known heart-related tragedies that had taken place on the basketball court. We talked about how blessed I had been to compete at an elite level and not have something terrible go wrong with my heart, especially a heart that was affected by this strange disease.
Two cases that stand out to Austin are those of young boys in Texas—Owen Gray, a 13-year-old from Houston, and an 11-year-old named Carson in Waco. But, as Karen Murray, chairwoman of the Marfan Foundation, whose son, Michael, has grown up with Marfan syndrome, points out, Austin’s impact has already stretched beyond the realm of those with whom he has interacted directly. “He has connected with a lot of people personally, through conferences,” Murray said, “but at the end of the day, there are so many people with Marfan syndrome that he has given a lot of hope to, because he is a role model for them. They look at him as an individual who is moving through his diagnosis and doing all the right things—he is a role model for so many kids whose names he does not even know. They’re affected and they’re motivated and inspired by him. My son has Marfan, and he talks about him all the time. He is affecting people whose names he does not know.”
Most important, he has taken on a role as the face of Marfan syndrome, a difficult task to bestow on a 21-year-old. But Austin has taken it willingly, and hopes his story reaches people beyond the scope of his disease. “I wanted to raise awareness of Marfan syndrome,” he said. “There have been a couple cases I have been contacted about, where kids have found out they have Marfan syndrome, and they have been able to come to me and share their story with me. I have just been able to interact with them and uplift them.
But Isaiah doesn’t see it as the end. Rather, he sees it as an opportunity to carve a new path and help others achieve their dreams. “I’m still figuring it out on the way,” he said. “Life hits you with different hurdles every day and I know right now I want to be a servant leader, that’s what god has put in my life and in my heart so each and everyday at Baylor, instead of playing on the court, I’m wiping up sweat now. I’m giving guys water. I’m just doing what I can to humble myself.”
He went from being an award-winning college player at Baylor University to being buzzed about as a a first-round draft pick in the NBA. Then came life-changing news from his doctor. Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. If he continued to play basketball, Austin could have dropped dead on the court. “It really hit me when I came home that night at my aunt’s house and looked into my mom’s face and I knew — exactly then and there — what it was,” he said.
Back in Boston for the beginning of the NBA season, Austin sees Owen on the court before the game and runs over to give him a high-five. There are a dozen boys and girls with Marfan there, many of whom had never met another kid like them before this trip. The Celtics have partnered with the Marfan Foundation this season, and tonight they’re honoring Austin with their “Heroes Among Us” award. At a break in the second quarter, Austin walks onto the court. He hears the sweet sound of his name and a more thunderous roar than when Rajon Rondo was introduced in the starting lineup. A crowd of 18,000 is on its feet.
So alone in his room, he’d turn again to what his mother had told him when he lost vision in his eye: “You can make it your excuse or your story.” He’d look to his left arm and see the words from Corinthians facing him, “For we walk by faith and not by sight,” and discover a new meaning that wasn’t about blindness. He’d begin to dream again and to put the same dedication that brought him to the brink of the NBA into those dreams. He became a spokesman for the Marfan Foundation. He began to write a book. He started the Isaiah Austin Foundation to promote Marfan awareness. He distributed thousands of bracelets at Baylor with the words “Dream Again.” And he discovered a different side of basketball as a graduate assistant, mopping sweat off the floor, handing out water bottles and breaking down film with his players. “I never played basketball just so I could make it to the NBA,” Austin says. “I wanted that, of course, but I just loved the game. And now I’ve discovered so much more that I love.”
While Austin wears a grin and is grateful to have a new calling, he still struggles with losing basketball and watching his peers make their NBA debuts, fulfilling lifelong dreams. “I’m still getting over it,” said Austin, who was honored by commissioner Adam Silver during the NBA Draft. “I still miss the game every day of my life, but at the same time I still know that I have a different path that I’m taking and a different journey that I’m on. I’m not letting it dwell. I’m moving forward and staying positive.”
“It’s been different,” Austin said about life after basketball. “I don’t wake up every morning and go straight to the gym. I wake up and go straight to class. I’m wiping up sweat at [Baylor] practice now instead of participating in it, so it’s something I have to deal with and it’s a new beginning for me.” Austin has spent the past few months speaking publicly about his experiences and motivating people with Marfan. In a public service announcement on the video screen during Wednesday’s game, Austin alerted parents to potential Marfan symptoms in their children. “I met a lot of families because of Marfan syndrome — a lot of those kids that I’m meeting, they’re just warriors,” he said. “Their strength really inspires me.”
Not long after, he tells Mazzeo, he had to decide on a number. He chose No. 21, Isaiah Austin’s number at Baylor. “I didn’t tell him,” said Cory Jefferson, who wore No. 34 in college. “I just did it. He liked it, just being able to see No. 21 still out there. Like I said, it means a lot more to me now.” Wednesday night, the Celtics honored Isaiah Austin for his courage and presented him with a framed No. 21 jersey. And Jefferson playing his first NBA game scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds in nine minutes with Austin watching.
The NBA will take its affiliation with former Baylor Bears star Isaiah Austin a step further than the ceremonial pick they extended him in this year’s draft if all goes according to plan. Austin, whose career was cut short when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart, has been promised a job by commissioner Adam Silver with the stipulation he complete his undergraduate degree from Baylor, he told “Right now he’s going to have me do a little stuff with NBA Cares, just off-and-on right now until I get a full job,” Austin told the website, referring to the league’s charity outreach group.
Austin walked into the house, nearly 20 familiar faces waiting, all fighting a droop. His eyes locked on his mother’s, who were already welled to tears. His stepfather was holding her, and the reality of why this family reunion was happening slammed him. “No,” Austin immediately said. “Please don’t tell me what I think you’re going to tell me.” “I’m sorry, Isaiah,” were the first words Lisa could get out. Before she said them, he knew. Doctors told him about the possibility of Marfan in Chicago, at the draft combine. There was no other reason for him to see his family in that house right then and there. They weren’t supposed to be in Grand Prairie, not today. It was Saturday, and Noah had a track meet to prepare for. Austin turned his back and began to cry.