Having the will to live after losing your mother and siblings in a tragic plane crash takes an unimaginable amount of courage. But only an astoundingly tenacious soul could face a similar fate 8 years later – this time losing a father and stepmother – and still have the determination to keep going.
This is Austin Hatch’s reality, the 19-year-old, high school basketball standout from Fort Wayne, Indiana who recently signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at the University of Michigan.
The twist in this heart wrenching story is not just that Austin lost his entire immediate family in the 2003 and 2011 small plane crashes but that he literally survived his entire family as he was a passenger on both flights.
The 2011 plane crash left Austin in a medically induced coma for several weeks with critical injuries and an uncertain basketball future. Based on Austin’s original intent to play at Michigan, Mr. Miracle himself should have been on the court as a Wolverine this season. However, with rehab and having to miss a season of playing to fully recover, Austin was granted an extra year of high school eligibility and will instead take the court next year as a Michigan Man.
“The pain from that never goes away … but my recovery has been nothing short of a miracle … when I was in a wheelchair, I told people that I was gonna play basketball,” says Hatch of his loss and rehabilitation.
And whether or not Austin ends up getting playing time or working as a team manager, it’s beyond awesome that head coach John Beilein is still honoring his University of Michigan scholarship offer.
Between support from his uncle, who’s now Autstin’s legal guardian in Los Angeles, his grandparents, and his relentless determination to accomplish his academic and athletic goals for himself and for his family’s memory, it’s obvious that not even death can stand in Austin Hatch’s way.