ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan's Austin Hatch suited up for the Wolverines for the first time in three years Sunday and was honored along with the program's other seniors before the team's final home game of the season.
Hatch came to Michigan after surviving a plane crash in 2011 that left him with a brain injury severe enough to keep him in a coma for months. His father and stepmother died in the plane crash. Eight years earlier, Hatch's mother and his siblings died in a separate plane crash. He survived that accident when his father threw him from the wreckage. Hatch's teammates said his positive attitude and backstory have served as an inspiration for the Wolverines over the past four years.
Hatch has served as a student assistant for the basketball team since taking a medical hardship scholarship at the end of the 2015 season. He played in five games as a freshman and scored one point. He said at the time that stepping away from basketball would allow him to focus on his future beyond the sport.
"I just love what he's brought to this team," head coach John Beilein said in a video tribute played before Sunday afternoon's tipoff with rival Ohio State. "Hopefully in some way we've brought a similar substance to him -- a sense of belonging."
Hatch suited up and went through warm-ups prior to Sunday's game. He was mobbed by his teammates and given an ovation by the Crisler Center crowd when he was introduced as a part of the pregame senior day ceremony.
Beilein said he was struggling to hold back tears when Hatch took the court with his fiancée Abby prior to Sunday's game. The coach said he retold Hatch's story to the rest of the team Saturday night. He recalled visiting Hatch in the hospital shortly after he came out of the coma. He had transformed from one of the top sophomore players in the country to someone who couldn't eat or walk much more than a few feet, Beilein said.
"When you see that and then you see this," Beilein said. "You see his family and his fiancée Abby it makes your heart warm. ...He's been a huge part of my life and this team's life."