Former Baylor University center Isaiah Austin's basketball career met a premature end Sunday, after the rising basketball star revealed he'd been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder, during routine tests in preparation for the 2014 NBA draft.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Marfan syndrome is caused by a genetic disorder that affects how the body produces connective tissue. People who suffer from Marfan syndrome, statistically about 1 in 5,000, are often tall and thin and can suffer from heart and blood vessel problems.
In addition to other symptoms, the syndrome can also affect eyesight. Last year, reports USA Today, Austin revealed he's blind in one eye, as a result of a detached retina.
The 7-foot-1-inch Austin has been told to stop playing basketball immediately. Doctors discovered he has an aortic enlargement, which is exacerbated by the stress of a heart-pounding sport and could be life-threatening.
"They said I wouldn't be able to play basketball anymore at a competitive level," Austin told ESPN. "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."
The player has since taken to social media, thanking fans for their support and expressing gratitude for all he's been able to do so far.
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"Words can't explain how thankful I am for the time I had to play this wonderful sport. It changed my life forever," Austin wrote on Twitter, along with the hashtag #NewBeginnings. In a separate tweet, he added: "I would love to thank EVERYONE who has reached out to me. Toughest days of my life. But not the last! Life goes on. GOD IS STILL GREAT!"
"This is devastating news, but Isaiah has the best support system anyone could ask for, and he knows that all of Baylor Nation is behind him," Austin's head coach at Baylor, Scott Drew, said in a release. "His health is the most important thing, and while it's extremely sad that he won't be able to play in the NBA, our hope is that he'll return to Baylor to complete his degree and serve as a coach in our program."