By now, you’ve surely heard the tragic tale of Austin Hatch.
A former blue-chip recruit and Michigan-commit, Hatch has managed to survive two deadly plane crashes that robbed him of his family. In the first, back in 2003, his mother, 11-year old sister and five-year old brother perished. In 2011, to celebrate his commitment to the Wolverines, Hatch’s father flew them up to the family’s vacation home, but the plane crashed into a garage killing Hatch’s dad and his stepmom and leaving Austin critically injured.
He had a severe brain trauma, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and in order to manage the swelling in his brain, he was put into a medically-induced coma for eight months.
The 19-year old Indiana-native is back on the court, working on practicing with his new team in Los Angeles, working to get back onto the court. Michigan has held a scholarship open for him whenever he can make it to campus.
Hatch, who is truly a remarkable young man, spoke with the media yesterday. Both Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports and David Wharton of the LA Times wrote lengthy stories chronicling the struggles of his return to the court. This passage really got to me. From Eisenberg:
It’s a testament to Hatch’s character that he didn’t make his in-game return late in Canterbury’s season last February when doctors initially cleared him to play.
Canterbury coach Scott Kreiger had selected a February game and was ready to alert local media outlets, but Hatch decided it was too soon. He still lacked the speed, strength and coordination to be worthy of playing time and he didn’t want to take minutes from teammates better-equipped to help Canterbury win.
“I told my therapists, my doctors and my coach, ‘I’m not going to be an asset to my team,'” Hatch said. “I don’t want to be put in a game just because of who I am and what I’ve been through. If I’m not going to help the team win basketball games, I don’t deserve to be out there.”
At some point soon, whether it’s at Loyola this year or Michigan next winter, Hatch hopes to progress to the point where playing time would be out of merit rather than sympathy.
Anyway, you should read both of those stories.
I know that we in the media aren’t supposed to have rooting interests. We aren’t supposed to cheer. I do not care.