NBA hopeful, stricken by illness, returns to basketball

FILE - In this Friday, March 21, 2014 file photo, Baylor's Isaiah Austin adjusts his glasses during a second-round game against Nebraska in the NCAA college basketball tournament, in San Antonio. Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin has arrived in Serbia on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 after being cleared to play basketball again, 2½ years after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during a physical before the NBA draft. Austin, who played for the Bears from 2012-14, has signed with FMP Belgrade with a view to joining regional champions Red Star Belgrade next season. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file)

BELGRADE, Serbia — Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin has arrived in Serbia after being cleared to play basketball again, 2½ years after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during a physical before the NBA draft.

Austin, who played for the Bears from 2012-14, has signed with FMP Belgrade with a view to joining regional champions Red Star Belgrade next season.

The 7-foot-1 player wasn't selected in the 2014 NBA draft after being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue that holds together the body's cells, organs and tissue.

"After 2014 I was told this day would never come, but God is great and has been with me this whole time, so here I am!," Austin wrote on his Facebook page.

NBA scouts had been aware that Austin was blind in his right eye from a previous injury aggravated doing a dunk in middle school. Multiple operations couldn't fix the detached retina and save his vision.

After the diagnosis, Austin still got to hear his name called at the NBA draft. He was made a ceremonial pick midway through the first round and presented with an NBA cap by Commissioner Adam Silver.

Since then, the 23-year-old Austin has worked to raise awareness of Marfan syndrome through his foundation. He also wrote a memoir.

After traveling for three days from the U.S. because of snowy weather across Europe that has canceled hundreds of flights — and losing his baggage along the way — Austin landed at Belgrade airport late Tuesday.

"Ain't changed clothes in 3 days dawg. Lost my bags, at least I'm finally in Serbia but damn I'm sick about my bags yo lol," Austin wrote on Twitter.

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