Austin announced in an Instagram post on Wednesday that doctors have cleared him to play basketball again, opening a possible return to the NBA that was taken from him shortly before the 2014 NBA Draft.
“Ever since the Draft I’ve been getting checked through my doctor and through those checkups you know we’ve been monitoring my heart and making sure that nothing is changed,” Austin said. “And he said that I’m stable.”
Austin discovered he had Marfan syndrome during workouts shortly before the NBA Draft. The Baylor product was expected to be a lottery pick before he was told he should never play basketball again.
According to the Marfan Foundation, Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue that holds together all of the body’s cells, organs and tissue. It also plays an important role in helping the body grow and develop properly. Because connective tissue is found throughout the body, Marfan syndrome can affect many different parts of the body.
The 7-foot-1 Austin was notified of the health issue just days before the 2014 draft, and he was recommended to quit playing basketball immediately.
Austin famously had an emotional moment at the Draft, which NBA commissioner Adam Silver invited him to despite the diagnosis. Austin was made a ceremonial pick between the 15th and 16th selections and was tearful in an on-camera interview.
After the Draft, Austin went back to school to finish his degree at Baylor and do charity work. Now, Austin says he’s already working hard to one day take the floor as an NBA player.
“Ever since my doctor told me that I was cleared its been on my mind,” Austin said. “I wanna go chase this. It’s always been my dream. I wanna go chase this.”
Though Austin’s doctors are confident he’s ready to make a comeback it can be dangerous for athletes to play with Marfan syndrome.
Some athletes have died on the court as a result of Marfan syndrome and associated aortic problems, among them noted Olympic volleyball star Flo Hyman.
Features of the disorder are most often found in the heart, blood vessels, bones, joints and eyes. Some Marfan features — for example, aortic enlargement (expansion of the main blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body) — can be life-threatening. The lungs, skin and nervous system may also be affected.
Austin, however, presented a compelling theological argument for his faith in his doctor’s word.
“I believe that everything happens in your life for a reason,” Austin said. “So why would God put it in my doctor’s heart to say that I’m cleared if he didn’t want me to go and chase my dream and to share my testimony with millions of people around the world?”
It’s clear that Austin has faith. Now it’s time to see if an NBA team has that same faith in him.