Who is Austin Hatch? Two-time plane crash survivor returns to basketball (video)

January 10, 2014
FILE - Loyola High School senior Austin Hatch takes question from the media during a news conference at the Loyola High School campus in Los Angeles, in this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 file photo. Two-time plane crash survivor Austin Hatch hit a 3-pointer on his first shot in his first basketball game in nearly three years. Hatch scored in the fourth quarter Wednesday night Jan. 8, 2014 for Los Angeles' Loyola High School, where he enrolled this season. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

There’s a reason why everyone is talking about Austin Hatch as the week comes to a close.

And it isn’t simply because the 6-6 Loyola High School basketball player hit a 3-point shot in his first game in nearly three years. It’s everything that led up to the moment in the fourth quarter of the game Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Hatch, 19, has survived two airplane crashes eight years apart, crashes that claimed five members of his family. His mother, 5-year-old brother and 11-year-old sister were killed in the first crash; in the second in 2011, his father (the pilot on both flights) and stepmother died and he was seriously injured. In fact, he was so seriously injured that he was in a medically induced coma for nearly two months. When he hit his three, Coach Jamal Adams and Hatch’s teammates stormed the court and Loyola was slapped with a technical.

“It was the best technical foul I’ve ever been a part of,” Adams told Los Angeles Times after Loyola’s 87-59 victory. ” … It was unbelievable what that kid has gone through and how hard he’s worked. That kid has taught me you can come back from anything, that nothing is impossible. It was a spiritual moment.”

In the second crash, Hatch suffered head injuries, broken ribs and collarbone and a punctured lung, according to ESPN, and had to relearn how to walk and talk. In August, he moved from his Fort Wayne, Ind., home to Los Angeles to live with his uncle and was practicing with the team all fall. On Wednesday, he took his big, emotional trey in stride.

The second crash occurred after Hatch’s father decided to fly the family to their vacation home to celebrate his son’s verbal commitment to Michigan, which intends to honor the commitment. Hatch’s Twitter bio sums it up nicely: “A man’s true character is revealed by his response to adversity. I don’t think I deserved what happened 3 years ago, but I’m gonna be fine. Go Blue.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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