But the former Baylor center still was able to live out part of his dream when he heard Commissioner Adam Silver call his name as a ceremonial pick between the 15th and 16th picks.
"Like the other young men here tonight, Isaiah committed himself through endless hard work and dedication to a potential career as a professional basketball player and we wanted to make sure he fulfilled at least this part of this dream," Silver told the crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"So it gives me great pleasure to say, that with the next pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin out of Baylor University."
Austin, who was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome just days ago during a pre-draft physical, paused to wipe his eyes before taking the stage and shaking Silver's hand in front of a standing ovation.
Before being diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder affecting the heart, Austin was expected to start his NBA career Thursday night -- and that was even after he revealed during the past collegiate season that he is partially blind and has a prosthetic right eye.
Marfan syndrome can be successfully treated, but contact sports are out because of the danger of potentially fatal damage to the aorta.
“It's really been a tough week for me," Austin said in an interview after leaving the stage. "I've just had a tremendous amount of support from everybody around the world, telling me they're praying for me and everything. I can't thank everybody enough.”
Austin added that plenty of other opportunities await him, including an offer to join Baylor Coach Scott Drew's staff.
“I have a whole life ahead of me,” Austin said. “I'm not going to sit here and I'm not going to sulk about not being able to play basketball anymore, because I can still be involved with the game somehow or some way.”
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