Austin Hatch has been through more than anyone should have to endure in 19 years. Despite suffering through a pair of extremely traumatic accidents, he has worked to get back onto the court and recently signed his national letter of intent to play basketball for the University of Michigan, according to ESPN.com.
The Loyola High School (Calif.) senior has survived two plane crashes eight years apart that killed his parents and two siblings, with the second crash coming two-and-a-half years ago. Earlier this week, he said that he felt "blessed" that he was able to continue to play basketball in honor of his family.
That alone is an inspirational story, but there is so much more to it.
Hatch and his pilot father survived his first plane crash eight years ago, but his mother, brother and sister sadly did not make it.
Six years later, Hatch verbally committed to play for the Wolverines. However, tragedy struck just 10 days after he committed when he, his father and his stepmother were flying a plane to their summer home.
Their plane crashed into a garage in Charlevoix, Michigan, killing everyone on board except for Austin, who suffered a severe head injury, a broken collarbone, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs.
Hatch spent eight weeks recovering in a medically induced coma.
This summer, he moved from Indiana to California to live with his uncle and guardian, Michael Hatch, in order to have "superior rehabilitation opportunities."
Though this harrowing tale is how most have come to know him, basketball was what originally put Hatch on the map. As a sophomore at Canterbury High School (Fort Wayne, Ind.), he averaged 23.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, causing several Division I programs to take notice.
"Basketball is just a game, and I understand that I have bigger goals in life," Hatch said. "My academics come first. Basketball has always been second for me, but basketball has given me something to shoot for."
Michigan was one of the schools interested in him, and he and his father picked it because of its academics.
Wolverines coach John Beilein has stuck with Hatch through everything. He will give the 6'6" shooting guard, who Rivals ranks as a 3-star prospect, every opportunity to contribute. Michigan finished as the national runner-up to Louisville in last season's NCAA tournament.
Hatch saw it as a fulfilling day when he finally signed his letter of intent.
"Signing with the University of Michigan has been a goal of mine since I basically woke up from my coma," Hatch said. "Last week, it was kind of surreal to actually see my name on that dotted line. I can't tell you how blessed I feel to be in that position."
Although he signed a letter of intent, Hatch still has to work his way onto the court for Loyola this season. Considering how much adversity he has fought through already, it's a goal he should have no problem accomplishing.
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