2014’s NBA Draft was so filled with talent and potential, it’s already being compared to some of the better classes of the past (like 1984‘s Michael Jordan lead class, Kobe Bryant’s class of ’96 and LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade’s ’03 crop). Watching Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle shake new commissioner Adam Silver’s hand was a historic moment that fans around the league were excited about, but it was the one player in attendance who couldn’t make make a team that made the night historic.
When then NBA prospect, former Baylor basketball star Isaiah Austin walked across the stage on NBA Draft night, the scene was both moving and motivational. Here’s a 20-year-old kid who had worked his whole life to get to the NBA, following in the footsteps of his uncle, nine year NBA veteran Ike Austin, only to have his dream ended by a previously undetected medical issue known as Marfan Syndrome. Austin says that night was all a dream.
“The way commissioner Adam Silver set everything up of me and my family and somehow fit us into the draft was surreal,” Austin said. “I didn’t know he’d honorarily pick me. I was just nervous being there because even though it’s always been my dream, I didn’t know how well others would accept me being there that night. But walking up to the stage, it felt like a relief. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Earlier that week, the former high school All-American announced in a tear-filled sit-down interview with ESPN, that he had Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. The syndrome usually causes problems with the aortic in the heart, which could lead to death. If you’ve never heard of it or hand’t before hearing Isaiah’s story, you’re not alone.