Austin Hatch’s life seemed to be going exactly as planned or better when he verbally committed to the University of Michigan in June of 2011.
Ten days later, Hatch’s world was turned upside down. His father and stepmother were killed in a plane crash in Charlevoix, Michigan that left him in a coma for eight weeks due to a traumatic brain injury.
Believe it or not, this was not the first near-death experience in a plane for Hatch, nor was it the first time that he lost a family member in one. Just eight years earlier, Hatch survived a separate plane crash that took the lives of his mother, brother, and sister.
Hatch signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for the Wolverines just last week, and head coach promised that he will be welcome in the program in any role that he can play.
“Signing with the University of Michigan has been a goal of mine since I basically woke up from my coma. Last week, it was kind of surreal to actually see my name on that dotted line. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to be in that position. Basketball is just a game, and I understand that I have bigger goals in life. My academics come first. Basketball has always been second for me, but basketball has given me something to shoot for.”
Hatch no longer has any members of his immediate family to confide in, but he has moved to Los Angeles to be with his uncle and grandparents. He will finish school at Loyola High School, where he has been practicing with the basketball team, before heading to Michigan next year.
“When you’re inches, millimeters away from death, you really understand. You look at that from a different lens. Every day, the opportunities I have with my family, my friends, all the guys here at Loyola, it’s just a great group of people out here.”