It’s a miracle! Isaiah Austin was denied a chance of entering the NBA after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in 2014. Now, the ex-Baylor star has been cleared to play! As he gets ready for a shot at a basketball career, learn about the condition that almost ended his dream.
1. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder dealing with connective tissue.
Connective tissue holds all the body’s cells, organs and tissues together, according to The Marfan Foundation. The syndrome, which weakens the tissue, is caused by a defect (or mutation) in the gene that tells the body how to make fibrillin-1, the protein essential in the formation of connective tissue.
Isaiah, 23, brought the disease into the spotlight in 2014. The Baylor basketball player was expected to be a huge name in the NBA but he had to pull out due to the risks to his health.
2. About 1 in 5,000 people have the disorder
In fact, Isaiah found out he “beat the odds” at the worst time. Just days before the 2014 NBA Draft, doctors discovered he had the syndrome and told him that, essentially, his basketball dream was over.
3. Many organs are affected by Marfan syndrome.
Since connective tissue is found throughout the body, Marfan syndrome affects everything – including blood vessels, bones, joints, eyes and hearts. The arteries in Isaiah’s heart were abnormally large, and doctors were worried that the physical toll of playing a NBA game could cause them to rupture, according to Yahoo Sports. Isaiah never gave up hope, and on Nov. 30, he announced he was cleared to play.
“Ever since the  Draft, I’ve been checked by my doctors,” Isaiah said. “And through those check-ups, we’ve been monitoring my heart, making sure nothing has changed. He said that I’m stable. I am cleared. I am about to be out here pursuing my dream.”
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 | full interview on cassyathena.com @cassyathena
4. Symptoms vary and they may not immediately appear.
While people with Marfan syndrome are born with the condition, the disorder doesn’t always show up at birth. Symptoms include: a tall and slender build; disproportionality long arms and legs; extreme nearsightedness; heart murmurs and more. Isaiah happens to be 7’1 and legally blind in one eye. Still, he was shooting for 31% from the 3-point range during his two seasons at Baylor, and if he’s been practicing for the past two years, he’s still going to be a threat.
5. There is no cure, but there is treatment.
In the past, people diagnosed with the condition would not live past 40 years of age. Now, thanks to medical science, people can live normal lives. It also seems that they can play basketball. Here’s hoping. Isaiah still needs to convince the NBA that there’s zero chance of him having a cardiac incident while playing. Once that’s done, he needs to talk one team into giving him a chance.
Do you think a team will sign Isaiah, HollywoodLifers? Are you amazed that he was able to manage his Marfan syndrome?