Isaiah Charles Austin is an American basketball player who completed his college career for the Baylor Bears in 2014. He had been considered a first-round prospect in the 2014 NBA draft until he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome.
In his freshman season at Baylor, Austin was named to the 2013 All-Big 12 third team and the Big 12 All-Rookie team. On April 4, 2013, he recorded 15 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, four assists and two steals in the NIT championship game in which Baylor defeated Iowa 74–54. In 35 games (all starts), he averaged 13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.7 blocks in 29.9 minutes per game.
In April 2013, he declared for the 2013 NBA draft, but later returned to Baylor due to a shoulder injury. In his sophomore season, he was named to the 2014 Big 12 All-Defensive team. In 38 games, he averaged 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 3.1 blocks in 28.0 minutes per game. On April 22, 2014, he declared for the 2014 NBA draft, forgoing his final two years of college eligibility.
Isaiah Austin with a friend having a good time shopping in Hollywood, CA. Credit: Zodiac/ Splashnews
On June 21, 2014, Austin learned that he had been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. In an emotional interview with ESPN‘s Holly Rowe, Austin said that he could no longer play basketball at a competitive level since there was too much risk of his heart rupturing. In response, NBA commissioner Adam Silver invited Austin to attend the draft as his guest. Shortly after Austin’s diagnosis was made public, his agent revealed that Austin had taken out an insurance policy against career-ending disability through a special NCAA program. The amount of the policy was not disclosed, but the agent stated that it was at least $1 million. The policy would not have paid out if his career had ended due to the aforementioned shoulder injury or his eyesight, but is expected to pay out due to his Marfan diagnosis.
Austin is blind in his right eye from an injury he sustained in middle school. He had kept the injury a secret, known only to his teammates and close friends until January 17, 2014.
On June 26, 2014, between the 15th and 16th picks of the 2014 draft, Commissioner Adam Silver made Austin a ceremonial pick, which fulfilled his dream of getting drafted. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he walked up to the podium.