Plane crash survivor Austin Hatch sinks 3-pointer in first game back
"Miracle shot" is an often overused phrase in basketball, but not in this case.
Austin Hatch, a 19-year-old Michigan recruit who has survived two plane crashes, returned to the court Wednesday night for the first time in three seasons and drained a three-pointer on his very first shot for Loyola High School of Los Angeles.
His teammates and fellow students were so happy for him that they immediately stormed the floor and were given a technical foul in the fourth quarter of Loyola’s 87-59 victory over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
Hatch’s coach, Jamal Adams, called it a "spiritual moment" in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"That kid has taught me you can come back from anything, that nothing is impossible," Adams said.
Hatch, a 6-foot-6 forward, made an oral commitment to Michigan in June 2011 before what was supposed to be his junior year at Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. He had averaged 23 points and nine rebounds as a sophomore.
But a week after committing, Hatch was involved in a private-plane crash in northern Michigan that killed his father and stepmother, and left him in a medically-induced coma for eight weeks.
That came eight years after he and his father survived another plane crash that killed Hatch’s mother and two siblings.
His dad was the pilot both times.
It’s enough of a miracle that Hatch is alive, but to play basketball again? Many doubted it was possible, but not him.
Hatch’s Twitter account (@ahatch33) is filled with inspirational messages, including this one from him: "A man’s true character is revealed by his response to adversity. I don’t think I deserve what I’ve been through, but I’m gonna be fine."
One day before his official return to basketball, Hatch tweeted this message: "Even tho I was millimeters away from death, I WILL play for Michigan because ‘I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.’"
Hatch didn’t do any interviews after Wednesday’s game, but he did send out a tweet that tried to take the attention off of what he accomplished and put it on what the team did.
"My three was pretty cool, but, more importantly, we’re now 14-0," Hatch wrote.
Hatch had hoped to make a return to basketball last year when he was still living in Fort Wayne, but he just wasn’t ready for game competition.
After moving to Los Angeles with some family members for a new start, Hatch held a news conference in November, during which he said of his rehab from brain injury, "I had to relearn how to walk and talk. It was like I was born again."
Coach John Beilein and the Michigan athletic department are continuing to honor the scholarship offer to him. Hatch signed an official letter of intent a few months ago and is planning to be in Ann Arbor next season.
Anything is possible.