Austin Hatch spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since surviving his second place crash during the summer of 2011.
Speaking from Loyola High School in Pasadena, Calif, his new high school, the former Canterbury standout talked about a wide range of topics, including surviving the plane crashes; the loss of his father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, in the second accident; his physical recovery; and the emotional toll.
"Aside from the physical trauma that I suffered in the accident and recovered from that, the emotional pain will never fully subside," said Hatch, whose news conference was streamed live.
"Dealing with the loss of my best friend and coach and teacher and No. 1 fan in Dr. Stephen Hatch, who was also my father," Hatch said, "he was an incredible man and taught me everything I know. The things I learned from him are the work ethic needed to succeed, determination … those traits I acquired from him are the ones that saved my life."
He moved out West to live with his uncle, Michael, this summer. Hatch said he moved to California because living in Los Angeles would provide him with resources for his recovery he simply couldn't get in Fort Wayne.
Michael and his coach, Jamal Adams, also spoke at the news conference.
Hatch, who survived a plane crash a decade ago that claimed the lives of his mother and two siblings, was involved in the second plane crash in June 2011 that killed his father and stepmother.
The second accident happened just a week after he had committed to play for the University of Michigan.
"It has been a goal of mine since I can remember," Hatch said. "It was kind of surreal to actually sign."
He has yet to return to the basketball court other than practice, which he did last year with Canterbury and this year with Loyola.
His uncle, coach and Hatch himself confirmed Hatch still is not ready to return to the court competitively.
He averaged 23 points and nine rebounds per game as a sophomore with the Cavaliers, and led the program to the sectional championship.
"Basketball has always given me something to shoot for," Hatch said.
Hatch recently signed a letter of intent to Michigan, but was unsure what his role with the team would be, whether as a manager or a practice player.
But Wolverines coach John Beilein still honored the scholarship.
"He expects me to be a part of Michigan basketball, whether on the court or off," Hatch said.
Read more about Hatch's news conference in Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette.