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Austin Hatch, 2-Time Plane Crash Survivor, Steps Down from Michigan Basketball Team

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Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography

Austin Hatch, the inspirational Michigan basketball player who survived two plane crashes that killed multiple family members, is ending his college basketball career – but taking on a new role with the team.

Hatch, 20, who suffered near-fatal injuries in the second crash, is taking a permanent medical red shirt and stepping down as a player on the Big Ten team, PEOPLE confirms.

Instead, he will serve as a student assistant for the team, which allows him to keep his University of Michigan scholarship.

“Basketball has always been a huge part of my life, however, it is what I play, not who I am,” Hatch said in a statement, per the Detroit Free-Press.

“As I have progressed through this first season, I know that I am not where I want to be, both academically and athletically,” he also said.

“My priority is academics and I feel that it is in my best interest to devote more time to my studies,” he said. “This decision honors my father, and it is something that I know he would agree with and be proud of me for making.”

Hatch lost his mom and siblings in a 2003 plane crash that he survived. In 2011, his father, Stephen, and his stepmother died in a second crash that left Austin with near-fatal injuries.

Despite the tragedies, Hatch has retained a positive outlook about life.

“The time you could spend wondering ‘Why me?’ is the time you could have spent working your tail off to get better,” he told the Today show last year.

“It really comes down to character,” he also said. “Just being able to persevere in the midst of tragedy, in the midst of adversity.”