Baylor basketball player Isaiah Austin was a legitimate NBA prospect. Tall and lean, he looked exactly like the sort of basketball player that would make a great member of the NBA, once team cooks were able to pack some muscle onto his frame and fill him out a bit more. As it turns out, that won’t be happening for Austin, because he has something in common with our nation’s 16th president. Abraham Lincoln has long been suspected of having Marfan syndrome, which would explain his distinctive tall, skinny look, but it’s never been proven. However, it has been proven with Austin. Isaiah Austin has Marfan syndrome and has been told by doctors he can no longer play competitive basketball.
The disorder was discovered in Austin’s blood sample during NBA draft pre-screening. After some additional genetic testing, the results were confirmed, putting an end to Austin’s basketball career. Those with Marfan syndrome have disorders of the connective tissue and cartilage in the body. The condition can lead to weakening of the aorta, which can result in death during strenuous exercise. Austin, who is 7’1 and is blind in his right eye after a detached retina, was expected to be a low first-round NBA draft pick. Instead, he’ll be watching the draft as a guest of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, not hearing his name called.
“They said I wouldn’t be able to play basketball anymore at a competitive level,” said Austin during an interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “They found the gene in my blood sample. They told me that my arteries in my heart are enlarged and that if I overwork myself and push too hard that my heart could rupture. The draft is four days away, and I had a dream that my name was going to be called.” He added, “For all of my supporters, I just want to tell them sorry. I’m sorry they couldn’t see me play in the NBA. But it’s not the end; it’s only the beginning.”
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