University of Michigan senior Austin Hatch is a living legend. The 23-year-old became well known after he survived two plane crashes in 2003 and 2011 that collectively took the lives of his entire immediate family.
But even more remarkable than his story of survival is this young man’s infectious message of perseverance, a message that’s carried University of Michigan’s men’s basketball team all the way to the NCAA Final Four.
Hatch’s miraculous success story began after he survived a plane crash in 2003 that claimed the lives of his mother, brother, and sister. Despite injuries sustained during the crash, he went on to become an all-star high school basketball player.
Then, in June 2011, nine days after Hatch committed to Michigan, he was involved in a second plane crash that killed his father and stepmother, and left him in a coma for eight weeks, The Blade reported. He would spend the next two years re-learning how to do basic things like walking, eating, and even breathing.
Despite this, Hatch played in five games during Michigan’s 2014-15 season, according to the Detroit Free Press. After taking a medical scholarship in 2015 that effectively ended his playing career, he became an undergraduate assistant coach for the team.
In a short period of time, Hatch carved out an irreplaceable role for himself as a team leader and a physical representation of strength and endurance.
“It’s one of the greatest stories I think that I’ve ever been associated with and am pleased to be a part of,” head coach John Beilein told The Blade.
“I feel like God has his hand on me,” Hatch told a gathering of Los Angeles news media at a news conference in 2013. “I feel like there’s a plan for my life.”
In a recent interview with MGoBlue.com, Hatch shared how pursuing his faith and finding the woman he will marry have made his long, turbulent journey worth the struggle.
“Abby is the reason I’m still here,” he said of his fiancee, Michigan alum and college volleyball star Abby Cole. “I really believe that.”
“Given everything that’s happened — it’s been horrific, tragic, I’ve lost so much,” Hatch said. “But sometimes I have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Do you really have it this good?’ With all the great people I have in my life: Abigail, her family, my family, all my friends, Coach Beilein, the rest of the staff, everyone here. It’s hard to believe.”
Hatch says it’s no accident or strike of luck that he’s alive today.
“I believe it was divine intervention,” he explained.
Though he has experienced more loss than most people do in a lifetime, the 23-year-old said he feels blessed beyond words:
“If you would’ve told me six and a half years ago when I was in a hospital and couldn’t walk that I would be getting ready to graduate from Michigan, that I was getting married to the woman of the dreams, that I would’ve had an incredible experience in four years at Michigan … If you would’ve told me that, I’d have been like, ‘You’re crazy.’ I’m here to tell you it’s been better than I even could’ve imagined.”
Austin called Abby “a dream come true.”
“The kind of girl she is, her faith, the way she treats people. She’s a great person with great friends. She’s 6-5, she’s beautiful, she’s the sweetest girl ever, and a pretty good volleyball player, too,” he said.
And as for his future wife, she feels just as blessed. Abby Cole first heard Austin’s story in 2011, while watching the news of the plane crash on TV. Her mother suggested that they pray for him.
“It’s crazy to think that, at this point, I’m a sophomore in high school, I’m not yet committed to Michigan. Austin is a stranger who is just hanging to life by a thread. And it’s just crazy to think that I was praying for my future husband.”
The couple recently shared their providential love story in an interview with CBS Sports. Watch it below:
Austin will graduate in April, and in June, he will marry Cole in Petoskey, Michigan. Before all that, however, he and his team have a championship to win.