WACO, Texas — Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin has been cleared to play basketball again, 2 1/2 years after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during a physical before the NBA draft.
Austin revealed on his Instagram account this week that his doctor has given him the go-ahead to again pursue his dream of playing professional basketball. The 7-foot-1 player said he has been getting constant checkups, including heart monitoring, since the diagnosis before the 2014 draft when he was a potential first-round draft pick.
Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. It can affect many different parts of the body, including the aorta, the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
The 23-year-old Austin, who has relied on his strong Christian faith, said he is moving forward “with pure joy” to chase his dream and share his testimony.
Austin had succeeded at Baylor in the Big 12 Conference with a prosthetic right eye only to find out days before the draft that he had the rare disorder that could affect his heart. NBA scouts had already been aware that he was blind in his right eye from a previous injury aggravated doing a dunk in middle school. Multiple operations couldn’t fix the detached retina and save his vision.
After his Marfan syndrome diagnosis, Austin still got to hear his name called at the NBA draft. He was made a ceremonial pick midway through the first round and presented an NBA cap by Commissioner Adam Silver.
Since then, Austin has worked to raise awareness of Marfan syndrome through his foundation. He also wrote a memoir that was published last year, and is enrolled part-time at Baylor and on track to graduate next summer, depending on what happens with his basketball career.