Isaiah Austin has yet to properly sleep since arriving in the Philippines last night. Still, he had a hop in his step when he had his first practice with Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas.
“I’m good, I’m great actually,” the 7-foot-1 declared, as the Meralco Gym was filled with a collection of talent ranging from PBA stars to the best amateur talent in the country today.
“I was really, really sluggish. My legs, they weren’t with me today. I think it’s because I was jetlagged. I haven’t gotten enough rest. But as far as meeting all the players and interacting with the coaches, I’m very, very pleased,” he added.
“Everybody’s so supportive and positive.”
But for the 23-year-old, his dreams of having a basketball career had been derailed three years ago after he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome.
After years of working his way back, he was cleared to return to competitive basketball late in 2016. And by some twist of fate, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Austin found each other. And it made the Frenso, California native dream again.
“I’ve had a chance to dream again. My first dream was to play in the NBA. Unfortunately that was taken away from me but God placed another dream in my life to go around and inspire people with my story,” shared a grateful Austin. “I prayed and I prayed and I’ve asked God to bring basketball back into my life somehow, some way. With his gracious hands, he rewarded me with being able to play again.
“That’s what it means to dream again, just never giving up, always having faith in your God, that he’s gonna have a plan in your life.”
Ironically, it was his heart that almost ended his career, but it was also his heart and his courage that brought him to Gilas, a team that has “Puso” as its battle cry.
“Everybody’s been telling me that puso means heart. That word is gonna mean something not only for me, but also for my family for the rest of our lives.”
As the practice ended, the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team gathered around Austin, exchanging pleasantries and numbers. And the American is happy that he fits in nicely with his new teammates.
“Oh man, I love them. They’re all energetic. They’re very, very welcoming today in practice,” he shared.
“I don’t know any of these guys but they already accepted me into the family so that’s really all I could ask for.”
And after day one, it seems like Austin’s new dream is starting to become a reality.