At just 20 years old, Isaiah Austin had already overcome more than the average athlete in pursuit of his dream of playing professional basketball. In middle school, Austin aggravated a previous injury while dunking and suffered a detached retina in his right eye.
But even with little to no sight in one eye, Austin excelled at the game. He was honored as a McDonald's All-American in high school and was one of college basketball's top shot blockers at Baylor, starting all but one game. Austin was projected as a late first-round pick in this year's draft.
But just days before the event, routine medical tests revealed Austin has a rare genetic disorder known as Marfan syndrome. The disease, which is often associated with extreme height, effects the heart, eyes, circulatory system, and skeleton. Doctors told Austin that his arteries were enlarged and if he pushed himself too hard, his heart could rupture.
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"The draft is four days away, and I had a dream that my name was going to be called," Austin told ESPN.
On Thursday night, at least, that dream came true. Commissioner Adam Silver honored Austin as a committed and tireless player and called him up as the next pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Austin stood stoically and then before walking across the stage allowed himself a moment to celebrate and mourn the moment he had worked so hard for. Watch the touching video below. --Lauren Hansen
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