In the most touching moment of the 2014 NBA draft, commissioner Adam Silver "selected" Isaiah Austin on behalf of the league just days after the Baylor center was diagnosed with Marfan sydrome, a career-ending genetic disorder.
Silver made the announcement midway through the first round, stopping the proceedings to acknowledge Austin and welcome him to the Barclays Center stage in Brooklyn for the traditional photo op. Austin donned a blue cap with the NBA logo on it.
"You may have heard about Isaiah," Silver told the crowd. "He is one of the nation's best collegiate players, and was expected to be picked here tonight before the discovery just a few days ago that he had a genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome and he is no longer able to play competitive basketball. Like the other young men here tonight, Isaiah committed himself through endless hard work and dedication to a potential career as a professional basketball player and we wanted to make sure he fulfilled at least this part of this dream.
"It gives me great pleasure to say, that with the next pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin out of Baylor University."
Austin took a moment to wipe tears from his eyes as he took the stage.
"It's one of the biggest blessings in my life," Austin told ESPN in a reaction interview. "I worked so hard to get to this point but unfortunately it was taken away. When God closes one door, he opens another for you."
The 7-foot-1 Austin was projected as a second-round pick after spending two seasons at Baylor, where he earned Big 12 All-Defensive, All-Big 12 Third Team and Big 12 All-Rookie honors.
Earlier this week, Austin's condition was discovered during a pre-draft physical. He previously suffered a detached retina that left him blind in his right eye.
"It's been the toughest week of my life," he said on Thursday. "I have a great support system behind me. My family has been with me the whole way. God has put willpower in my heart to push through this."
Austin, who went to high school in Texas, averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Bears. ESPN.com reported this week that Austin took out a $1 million insurance policy and that his agent planned to file a claim on his behalf.
"I'm going to dream again," Austin said Thursday, when asked what was next for him. "I'm going to go around and share my story with as many people as I can. I'm just hoping to touch people's lives. To let them know that any obstacle they're facing, they can get through it."