Although a fairly enthusiastic sports fan, I no longer follow the way I once did so the headline left me with two questions, first who is Isaiah Austin and secondly what is Marfan Syndrome? The answer to the first gap in my knowledge of who’s who in sports, turns out to be that Isaiah Austin is a 20 year-old young man from Arlington Texas and standing 7′ 2″ tall was a standout basketball player at Baylor University with realistic hopes of a lucrative career in the NBA. Then I added a little medical knowledge by finding out that Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue and approximately 1 in 5,000 people are born with it. There are many signs of the disease including being tall, having long arms, legs, and or fingers. It can also affect vision and Austin is also partially blind. One of the dangerous and potentially life threatening aspects of Marfan Syndrome is heart problems, especially related to the aorta. This is a reason his continued participation is a strenuous sport such as basketball is too dangerous.
Of course the good news is that because the NBA gives very thorough physical exams the condition was finally diagnosed and although a career ender might be a life saver. Baylor coach Scott Drew is hoping Austin will now return to Baylor, finish his degree and serve as a coach with the Bears program. It is also inspiring to see how Austin has reacted to his situation, Tweeting, “Words can’t explain how thankful I am for the time I had to play this wonderful sport. It changed my life forever. I would love to thank everyone who reached out to me. Toughest days of my life. But not the last! Life goes on. GOD IS STILL GREAT!”
We all react to events in our own way and I have great doubts I could have handled the situation with such grace as Austin. Hopefully his acceptance of the misfortunes of life and his ability see where he has had blessings and look to the future will serve to inspire others.