(WTNH)–Two years after a Marfan syndrome diagnosis prematurely ended what was a promising basketball career, former Baylor star Isaiah Austin has been cleared to play again.
The 7-foot-1 big man was quick, athletic, and had a sweet shooting stroke, talents that made him a projected mid-first round pick in the 2014 Draft. But after a physical exam at the NBA Draft combine, Austin was diagnosed with the disease, which is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue and cause visual difficulties and heart problems.
Austin is blind in his right eye.
The diagnosis was devastating to Austin, who was projected for stardom in the NBA. But he apparently never gave up on playing again. He had been working as a student assistant with the Baylor men’s basketball team the past few years.
“Ever since the draft, I’ve been getting checked by my doctors. And through those check-ups, we’ve been monitoring my heart, making sure nothing has changed,” Austin announced in an Instagram video posted Wednesday.
“He said that I’m stable. I am cleared. I am about to be out here pursuing my dream.”
The 23-year-old averaged 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks as a sophomore at Baylor, before declaring early for the draft in 2014.
The NBA symbolically (and touchingly) “drafted” Austin during a special presentation made by commissioner Adam Silver in between the 14th and 15th picks that night.
Now, Austin will look to work his way onto an NBA team or perhaps find his way onto a D-League roster. Check out his full announcement below: