LOS ANGELES -- Tragedy will never be fully behind Austin Hatch. But he showed again Wednesday that he has not lost hope -- whether or not he ever becomes a high level basketball player again.
"I feel like God has his hand on me," Hatch told a gathering of Los Angeles news media, at a surreal, uplifting news conference. "I feel like there's a plan for my life."
Surviving two plane crashes will make one feel like that.
In June 2011 Hatch was a passenger in a small plane, piloted by his father, that crashed. His father and stepmother were killed.
Hatch survived -- although he had a traumatic brain injury, a broken collarbone and a punctured lung -- after being placed in a medically induced coma for eight weeks.
Incredibly, it was the second time Hatch had survived a crash. Eight years earlier, his father was the pilot in another crash. Hatch's mother and two siblings were killed in that one.
When Hatch awoke from his coma after the second crash it took him a while to process that he had lost his family.
"I was dealing with the loss of my best friend, my coach, my teacher, my mentor and my No. 1 fan -- that same man was also my father, Dr. Stephen Hatch," he said.
"He taught me everything -- the work necessary to succeed, faith, determination and courage in the midst of hardship. Those traits I acquired from him are what saved my life."
The second crash came two weeks after Hatch, a 6-6 wing man at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Canterbury High School, had verbally committed to play basketball at Michigan. He has not played in a competitive basketball game since the crash.
His recovery, physically, emotionally and mentally has been slow but steady. He spoke Wednesday calmly, confidently and articulately but said he is not where he once was in terms of cognitive ability.
"A lot of people have said my recovery is kind of a miracle," he said. "But you have to remember the significance of what I've been through. I had a traumatic brain injury."
Hatch moved this summer from Indiana to Pasadena, Calif., to live with an uncle's family and attend a senior year of high school at Loyola, a tony Catholic private school in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles. He is practicing with the team and hopes to play, but a date for his return is unclear.
Despite that, when Michigan coach John Beilein announced his 2014 recruiting class last week, Hatch was included.
Hatch said that even if his game does not return to the point where he can play Division I basketball, he will still be a member of the Michigan basketball family.
Beilein "told me that he wouldn't offer me a scholarship if he didn't think I had a role on the team that would help them win," he said. "He said, 'Austin, whatever you are able to do, whether it be a manager or a practice player or whatever, you're on scholarship no matter what."
Hatch said that it has been difficult to find someone who can completely relate to his situation: "It would be interesting to talk to someone who has been through something similar. But I haven't found him yet. I'm not sure anyone -- I don't know for sure -- I'm not sure anyone has been in two plane crashes."