Isaiah Austin: 'The sky's the limit' after serious health setback

Print
Email
|

by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 2:04 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 24 at 1:19 PM

DALLAS — There's a rhythm inside the gym in West Dallas. It's always been the rhythm of Isaiah Austin's life.

But life suddenly changed its tune.

"I just want these young kids out here to understand that you don't take anything for granted. It can be taken away from you with the snap of a finger," Austin said, looking over his shoulder at the court with about a dozen highly-recruited teens working out... just like he did when he was their age.

Austin played high school ball for Grace Christian Academy in Arlington, then college ball at Baylor. He worked out with Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams at the Mo Williams Academy in West Dallas.

Austin decided to leave Baylor and go pro. He was projected as a second or third round pick in Wednesday's NBA Draft. But he had to undergo a series of medical tests before the NBA would clear him.

And on Saturday night, Austin got word that his basketball career was over. He has Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that puts his heart in serious jeopardy during intense physical activity.

Austin said he sees the diagnosis as a blessing, because the disease could have already killed him during his basketball career.

"Life is going to go on, regardless," he said. "It's not fair to everyone sometimes. Unfortunately, that's how it is in life. It's a blessing in disguise," he said.

Just 24 hours after the news went public, Isaiah was back on the MWA court. He shot a couple of times, and blocked a couple of times. But he wasn't there to teach about the game; he was there to give a lesson about life.

"It's a blessing for us to have him back," said Terrance Ferguson, a 16-year-old high school junior who is already being highly recruited. He said Austin's presence sent a message: "You always have to have a backup plan... that's what they say."

Austin said when he got the news about his illness, he didn't let himself cry. He wanted to be strong for his 15-year-old brother and 11-year-old sister. It was only hours later, in his room and alone, that he let himself shed a few tears. But those tears have stopped.

"We're going to push through. We're going to raise awareness and make the best of it," he said. "I feel like with everybody around me, the sky is the limit, really."

Mo Williams has no doubt that's true.

"It's been him, more than anything, helping everybody around him. How he's taking it, that he's in the gym the next day, even able to be around this, is an influence on these kids," Williams said. "I think that's his calling. The great thing about him is that he's determined. He's a guy that defeats the odds."

Austin says coaching could be a part of his future. But he also wants to write a book, do some motivational speaking, and go back to Baylor to get his degree.

"All my strength comes from God. I know His healing hands are around me and my family at this tough time, but I know we can get through it," he said.

On Wednesday Isaiah Austin is still flying to New York as he had planned. And he'll still be honored during the NBA Draft.

"That's going to be the happiest day of my life," he said. "Even though I'm not going to be able to participate in games in the NBA, it's going to be a blessing for me. And I'm thankful for it."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|