Michigan’s Austin Hatch Hits The Most Emotional Free Throw You’ll See This Season
It's at once one of the greatest and most tragic stories in the annals of college basketball -- both mind-numbingly awful and unprecedentedly uplifting. We'll forgive the announcers above if they go a little over-dramatic with the call on this free throw, because Austin Hatch is not your ordinary basketball player.
Austin Hatch has been involved in two horrible plane crashes in his young life, eight years apart. The first, in 2003, took the lives of his mother, 11-year-old sister and five-year-old brother -- a crash that he and his father survived. Then in a second plane crash in 2011, his father and stepmother were killed, while only Hatch and his dog survived.
Hatch had signed scholarship papers to play for Michigan just 10 days before, but the second crash left him with brain injuries.
But Michigan honored his scholarship, and here we are, after rehabilitation and determination and the positive thoughts of the entire state, and Austin Hatch is at the free throw line, wearing a Michigan jersey, in a real game.
And toward the end, he hit the loudest free throw in Michigan history.
Austin Hatch subbed into the game with 1:40 left to a standing ovation. The Crisler Center crowd, subdued to that point, nearly burst in nervous anticipation every time Hatch touched the ball, aching for him to take a shot that didn't seem like it would come. Hatch was content to kill the clock in a blowout win. The crowd moaned when not he, but Ricky Doyle, finished a long possession with an easy layup; each time he had touched the ball, his teammates on the bench were literally jumping up and down encouraging him to shoot. He waited.
Then Hatch drew a foul at the top of the key with 12 seconds remaining and Michigan in the double bonus, and the crowd rose once again. The first free throw caught the back iron. The second did not.
To top it off, John Beilein called a timeout after Hatch sunk his free throw, then wrapped him in a bear hug as he came to the bench.
Austin Hatch, survivor of two deadly plane crashes, scored his first point for Michigan tonight. Video: https://t.co/5ZtKH1WjPr
— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) November 11, 2014
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