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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas Isaiah Austin's mom raised a winner.

She knew that more than ever Saturday night when she had to give him the devastating news.

I didn't know what to expect, but when I walked inside and saw my mom crying, I was really upset. I knew exactly what it was when I saw that, Austin said Monday at the home of a family friend in Grand Prairie.

The 7-foot-1 Baylor center had been working out with NBA teams, hoping to be picked high in this week's draft. But an abnormal EKG led to a test for a condition called Marfan syndrome. It damages connective tissues in the body.

When he saw his mom's face, he knew his basketball dreams were over. He had tested positive.

I said, 'Don't tell me what I think it is,' Austin recalled. She said, 'I'm sorry,' and she kept crying and crying and crying.

Austin's mother, Lisa Green, received a call from an NBA doctor on Friday. Green was at home in Overland Park, Kansas, where she now lives with her husband Ben and their other two children.

Basically, he said, 'This young man is lucky to be alive, because one sharp elbow to the chest or anything like that could be fatal,' Green said.

Within hours, the family was on the road back to Texas to break the news to Isaiah.

He sat on the stairs and we prayed around him. His brother and sister hugged him, and they were crying, Green said. He hugged them and said, 'You guys, it's going to be OK.'

So, 20-year-old Austin held them together, including Baylor coaches who had come to support him.

You can't be sorry for yourself and have a pity party. Not going to get anywhere with that, Austin said. Got to keep a positive mind. Know with God at your back, you can do anything.

After all, he lost his right eye to an accident in eighth grade and still became one of the best high school players in the nation.

I never allowed him to make it an excuse; make it a testimony, said Ray Forsett, who coached Austin for three years at Grace Prep Academy in Arlington. They were state champs two of those years.

Forsett is not a bit surprised that Austin already is thinking of new ways he can change young lives. He'll start by publicizing Marfan syndrome, which could have caused enlarged blood vessels around his heart to rupture.

They're just happy they found it early, so I didn't collapse on the court, Austin said.

According to The Marfan Foundation, the condition affects about one in 5,000. Few people get tested.

The NBA will bring Austin and his family to New York Wednesday to honor him. The family plans to meet with executives of the Marfan Foundation there.

When God closes one door, he opens another, Austin said. I feel like he s opening another. It s just another part of my life I have to work through. I m going to be the happy person I am, and not let anything get in my way.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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