I have a hard enough time playing with two eyes. Playing with one would be next to impossible.
And yet, that's the reality Baylor Bears center Isaiah Austin faces every time he steps on the court.
The sophomore big man revealed what only his teammates and close friends had known before Saturday morning: He suffered a torn retina in middle school and has been blind in his right eye ever since.
A serious eye injury in middle school hasn't stopped Baylor's Isaiah Austin from inspiring others through basketball: http://t.co/1WrZgcdf72— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 18, 2014
It's the kind of story that immediately makes you rethink anything bad you've ever said about Austin. You have to think back to the mistakes he's made and wonder if having sight in both eyes would've allowed him to avoid the problem in the first place.
Perhaps what is so impressive about Austin's story is his attitude toward it.
He could've very easily went the "woe is me" route when he realized he'd be blind in one eye. Even in middle school, Austin was receiving plenty of attention from top colleges, so he could've been seeing his collegiate dreams torn to shreds before he even hit high school.
Instead, the injury has only fueled his desire to become a star on the basketball court.
As you'd expect, plenty took to Twitter to commend Austin.
ESPN's Dana O'Neil gets at one of the reasons we love sports so much:
Athletes amaze me every day. Isaiah Austin has stunned me. An amazing story of courage and determination. Wow.— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) January 18, 2014
Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated just wanted to say thanks:
Wow what a tremendous story on Isaiah Austin on ESPN's GameDay. He is blind in one eye; wears a prosthetic. Thank u for sharing your story!— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) January 18, 2014
Michael DeCourcy of Sporting News highlighted what was one of the most powerful quotes from the video package:
Isaiah Austin's mom: "You can make it your excuse, or you can make it your story." Holy Moses.— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) January 18, 2014
Austin was already an interesting player to watch coming into the 2013-14 season. You don't often see 7-footers with as much athleticism as him. Although his NBA draft stock has tumbled since he arrived at Baylor, Austin's only a sophomore, so there's still time for him to turn it around.
And as Jonathan Givony of Draft Express noted, NBA teams were already aware of the center's eye issues, so Saturday's report won't impact his stock at all:
Isaiah Austin's situation was common knowledge among NBA teams, so I don't think this affects his draft stock any more than it already has.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) January 18, 2014
Even for fans of the Bears' rivals, you can't help but hope that Austin succeeds. It would be amazing to think that a player who's blind in one eye could sustain a productive NBA career.
There's also the people upon whom the same fate has befallen who can be inspired by what Austin is doing. He's refused to let his torn retina be a crutch in his career and his life. He's simply pushing on and proving any of his doubters wrong.
In short, Austin is somebody for whom you should be rooting.