Former Baylor star Isaiah Austin was projected to be a late first-round pick in the NBA draft later this week, but a routine physical at a scheduled combine revealed a serious medical condition that has halted his pursuit of a career playing professional basketball.
According to ESPN, early test results showed that Austin had an abnormal electrocardiogram reading, which led doctors to further testing that found him to have Marfan syndrome, “a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue that holds all the body’s cells.”
“They said I wouldn’t be able to play basketball anymore at a competitive level,” Austin told ESPN. “They found the gene in my blood sample. They told me that my arteries in my heart are enlarged and that if I overwork myself and push too hard that my heart could rupture. The draft is four days away, and I had a dream that my name was going to be called.”
Austin had already overcome tremendous hardship just to make it this far. According to ESPN, Austin is blind in his right eye after suffering a retinal detachment when he was 16.
ESPN notes that Austin’s mother, Lisa Green, heard the news Friday and “drove from Kansas to Dallas to deliver the career-ending diagnosis in person.” Baylor coach Scott Drew, Austin’s high school coaches and friends and family were all surrounding Austin when he got the news.
“This is devastating news, but Isaiah has the best support system anyone could ask for, and he knows that all of Baylor Nation is behind him,” Drew said in a release. “His health is the most important thing, and while it’s extremely sad that he won’t be able to play in the NBA, our hope is that he’ll return to Baylor to complete his degree and serve as a coach in our program.”
Although Austin will not be drafted, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has invited Austin to attend the draft as his guest.
“For all of my supporters, I just want to tell them, ‘Sorry,’ ” Austin told ESPN. “I’m sorry they couldn’t see me play in the NBA. But it’s not the end; it’s only the beginning.”
In his two seasons with Baylor, the 7-foot-1 center averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 28.9 minutes per game.