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Isaiah Austin's Comeback Makes Him One of Most Compelling Players in Country

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 21:  Isaiah Austin #21 of the Baylor University Bears reacts after a foul call against the Brigham Young University Cougars on December 21, 2012 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2014

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.

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:

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated just wanted to say thanks:

Michael DeCourcy of Sporting News highlighted what was one of the most powerful quotes from the video package:

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:

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.

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