It was June of 2011 when Austin Hatch, then a sophomore guard at Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, received a scholarship to play for John Beilein and the Michigan basketball team. He committed on the spot. Only 9 days later, his life took a drastic turn.
Hatch was involved in a plane crash near Charlevoix, Michigan that claimed the life of his stepmother, father, and left him in a medically induced coma. It was the second plane crash he’d survived. When he was 8, Hatch and his father survived a crash that claimed the lives of his mother, younger brother, and older sister.
This past Sunday, Hatch played his first minutes in a Michigan uniform a matchup with the Perugia Select team in Rome, Italy and again, today against The Vicenza All Stars. He’s only played in the final minutes of blowout wins, didn’t fill up the stat line at all in his first game, and missed a jumper today, but he played—a remarkable feat considering he couldn’t talk or walk after waking from his induced coma after a few days.
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) August 17, 2014
Despite his injuries, Beilein never wavered on his scholarship offer to Hatch. “I’ll tell you what, talk about a man with loyalty,” Hatch told reporters at a Michigan practice last week, “he told me when I was in a wheelchair, ‘Austin, I can’t wait for you to come play for me, I’d be honored to have you as a part of our program’, and it really says a lot about the kind of man he is.”
Bravo to John Beilein and Michigan for sticking with Hatch through the ups and downs. In the cut-throat world of college recruiting where scholarships are incredibly valuable, other programs might have moved on to another target, and rescinded the scholarship offer. Instead, we are given the chance to witness an incredible story in the making.
In his return to basketball last year Hatch drained his first shot attempt, a 3 pointer, for Loyola High School in California—a feat he has yet to accomplish at Michigan, but I’m sure isn’t far off. Here’s to hoping he the story continues with a made basket. Michigan still has 3 games remaining on their tour through Italy.