Baylor's Isaiah Austin has Marfan syndrome, won't be part of NBA draft

Isaiah Austin made the right decision, but that doesn't mean it was easy.

The 7-foot-1 former Baylor center pulled out of this week's NBA draft Sunday because of a rare genetic disorder known as Marfan syndrome, which affects his heart.

“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 ESPN interview, 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.”

Austin had already overcome a lot just to get to this point. He revealed during this past season with the Bears that he is partially blind and has a prosthetic right eye. A previously damaged retina had become detached after a routine dunk in middle school, and multiple surgeries were unable to remedy the situation.

Still, he averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds on a Sweet 16 Baylor team and had left school early to pursue his NBA dream. Baylor Coach Scott Drew said he hopes Austin will return to school for his degree and to the Bears as a coach.

“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,” Drew said. “His health is the most important thing.”

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