March 31, 2014

Blind Basketball Player


Scott: So, how is your March Madness bracket holding up? It is almost time for the NCAA Final Four! Now, even though Baylor University is out of the tournament after a loss to Wisconsin, one of their star players continues to defy the incredible odds against him.

It is easy to see how Baylor University’s Isaiah Austin helped his team reach this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. He is 7’1, has averaged 12 points a game, and blocked 114 shots this season – the best in his conference. While his height advantage is obvious, Austin does all of this with one distinct disadvantage.

Isaiah Austin: I’m blind in my right eye. This is a prosthetic eye that I have right here.

Scott: Austin has been blind in that eye since he was 16, the result of an injury he suffered two years earlier while playing basketball.

Austin: I felt like quitting. I felt like giving up because I was scared that college coaches weren’t going to recruit me if they found out.

Scott: His mother, Lisa Green, gave him two choices.

Lisa Green: Make it your excuse and tell people that you have this injury and feel sorry for me or, you know, make it your story. And if you make it your story, how many people can you inspire through this?

Scott: Austin decided to make it his story and keep playing. But his depth perception was off.

Austin: Sometimes when I was practicing I would air-ball and sometimes I would just hit the side of the backboard. But that just came down to lots of reps. For that to be taken away from me for that little bit of that time was kind of hurtful to me. But I got used to it and I got it back.

Scott: By high school, Austin was one of the nation’s top five players. So good, Baylor recruited him knowing he was legally blind.

Fan: Stories like you help inspire 11-year-olds.

Scott: Now in his second year, the choice his mother gave him has become a bit clearer.

Lisa: Kids have come up to him and said, ‘you know, you inspired me’. It’s incredible.

Austin: My mom always tells me that nobody is going to remember you for the great basketball player you are, but they will remember you for the character that you have off the court and how many lives you’ve changed.

Scott: Austin is expected to enter this year’s NBA draft, an opportunity to take his talents and his story to the next level.


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