The dream to play professional basketball lives for Isaiah Austin.
That news did not come as a surprise to his best friend Taurean Prince. The Hawks rookie knew one day Austin would get his chance.
“He always said he was going to try to make a comeback,” Prince said. “Sooner or later, God was going to give him another chance. He has spoken it into existence. If you haven’t been around him, then you probably don’t know his ambition the kid really has. For someone who has been around him for the past four or five years of our lives, it just shows every day.”
Austin and Prince played together and were roommates at Baylor University. Austin was on the verge of becoming a first-round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft when he left Baylor after two seasons. The dream appeared shattered with Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. He was forced to retire from the game before realizing his dream. As a gesture, the NBA drafted Austin on the night of the draft.
Austin announced on Wednesday that he has been cleared to play basketball. He wrote in an Instagram post: “Very excited to announce to everyone that the news is true. I have been blessed by the grace of God to receive a second chance at chasing my dream of playing basketball. Everything happens for a reason and I’m ready to share my testimony and journey with millions of people across the world. #DreamAgain”
When Austin was diagnosed, he asked Prince to wear his uniform number. Prince switched from No. 35 to No. 21. For a reason named Dominque Wilkins, Prince could not wear the number when he was drafted by the Hawks. He selected No. 21, the number backward.
“He’s still in shape,” Prince said. “He is still able to do the things he was doing before. In my opinion, he’s gotten a lot better. I’m excited to see where he goes. … He’s someone who has always been driven so it’s not a surprise to me.”
Prince intended to reach out to his friend following the Hawks game against the Suns Wednesday.
Austin, blind in his right eye since 16 years from a detached retina, averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during his two seasons at Baylor. The 7-foot-1 center will explore options of where to play.