WACO, Texas – Isaiah Austin’s attempt to play in the NBA despite only having vision in one eye has ended because of a rare genetic disorder that affects his heart.
The former Baylor center, who left school early to enter this week’s NBA draft, has been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which affects the body’s connective tissue.
Baylor made the announcement Sunday. The condition was discovered during a physical for Thursday’s draft.
According to the Mayo Clinic, complications from Marfan syndrome can weaken the aorta, the artery that supplies blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
“They told me that my arteries in my heart are enlarged and that if I overwork myself or push too hard that my heart could rupture,” Austin said in a brief interview with ESPN, his voice halting as he fought back tears. “The draft is four days away and I had a dream that my name was going to be called.”
The 7-foot-1 center declared for the draft after his sophomore season, in which he averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds on a Baylor team that reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament before losing to Wisconsin, a Final Four qualifier.
During his final season with the Bears, Austin revealed that he had a prosthetic right eye after multiple operations couldn’t repair a detached retina. The eye was damaged when a previous injury was aggravated doing a routine dunk before a middle-school game.