Austin Hatch, a teenager from Fort Wayne, Ind., who has survived two horrific plane crashes that killed five family members, is moving to Los Angeles to try to resume a basketball career he hopes will be continued a year from now at the University of Michigan.
Hatch is relocating to Pasadena to live with an uncle for his senior year of high school and has enrolled at Los Angeles Loyola, which begins classes on Aug. 26.
A 6-foot-6 forward, he committed to Michigan when he was a sophomore, before he suffered a serious head injury, broken ribs and a punctured lung during a plane crash on June 24, 2011. That crash killed his father and stepmother near Charlevoix, Mich.
It was his second crash in a plane piloted by his father, Stephen, a doctor. When Hatch was 8, he survived a crash that killed his mother, older sister and younger brother.
Hatch has not played competitively since the 2011 crash. A statement released by Hatch's family Monday said, "Austin continues to make steady improvement as he prepares for his final year of high school education. The family is grateful for all of the care and support provided by Canterbury School faculty and staff as well as for the community of well-wishers surrounding Austin, especially those close friends and family in Fort Wayne."
Hatch's story has generated national interest from some of college basketball's biggest names, such as TV commentator Dick Vitale. If he has recovered enough to play, he'll need to gain eligibility clearance from the CIF Southern Section to play for the Cubs this season. Loyola is expected to have one of the top teams in Division 1AA, led by Arizona-bound point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
Hatch sat out last season and has been reclassified to the class of 2014.
Whatever happens, his comeback attempt will be monitored by many. His positive attitude has earned him admirers from around the country.
He has used his Twitter account to put forth emotional and sometimes inspirational comments:
"Man, Father's Day is tough. Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there. To my father, I'm doing my best without you Dad. I love you."
"A lot of guys talked about reaching their dream and getting drafted. I'm gonna reach mine by getting back on the court."
"No matter what you're going through, there is always someone going through worse. Be grateful for your life and look at the positives."
"No better feeling than accomplishing a goal that no one else thought you could."
"There's a big difference between a bump in the road and a dead end. No matter what happens, just keep working."
"Man, it's great to be alive."