Former Oakland player injured in Brussels attack
A former Oakland University basketball player, a Belgian native, was severely injured in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, according to a former coach.
Sebastien Bellin, 37, was at the Brussels airport ticket counter when a bomb exploded about 100 yards away, said OU basketball coach Greg Kampe.
“He was blown away and he’s got a lot of shrapnel in his legs and hips,” Kampe said. “I was told he’s in a lot of pain but he’s doing OK. He’s going into his second surgery.”
Bellin is expected to live, said Kampe, who has been in touch with his former player’s employer, Belgian basketball agency company Keemotion.
“I don’t know the extent of the injuries, but no one really does,” Kampe said.
Kampe joined several of Bellin’s former basketball teams in tweeting support Tuesday for the injured star.
“My ex player Seb Bellin was injured in the Brussels bombing,” Kampe tweeted, using a nickname for Bellin. “Going for second surgery. Please pray for Seb.”
Meanwhile, Belgian basketball team BC Telenet Oostende tweeted a jarring image of their former player, lying bloodied on the ground after the attack. Dressed in dark clothing, Bellin appeared to be conscious, with ash covering his face and blood around his legs. Kampe on Tuesday confirmed the image depicted his former player.
“It’s of him lying, injured, outside,” Kampe said. “It was obviously a very emotional moment (seeing the image.)”
The Belgian team tweeted the photograph and well-wishes.
“We wish our former player Sebastien Bellin ... much strength and a speedy recovery,” the Belgian club said. In a follow-up tweet, the club said Bellin had undergone his first surgery after being thrown in the blast.
Bellin, standing at 6-foot-10, was a star center on the Oakland University’s basketball team during the early 2000s, including during the team’s 2000 conference championship run, according to Kampe.
After college, Bellin returned to Belgium and enjoyed a successful professional basketball career there and in Italy for about a dozen years. He works for the basketball agency and commutes between Europe, New York City and west Michigan, where his wife and two young children live, Kampe said. Bellin was on his way to New York City when the airport bomb went off.
“He was going to talk to me on Friday,” Kampe said. “The agency helps place players professionally in Europe, so he was going to talk to me about one of my players.”
Kampe said he did not know if Bellin planned to visit his family during his stateside trip. The coach had not yet reached out to Bellin’s wife early Tuesday afternoon.
“They’re in a position where they’re trying to get there and find out what’s going on,” Kampe said. “I do know that his wife knows, and we decided not to discuss anything with her and let her go.”
Kampe said he initially got word of Bellin’s injuries through texts from family and mutual friends. Despite years away from the program, Bellin has kept Oakland University at the top of his priorities, according to Kampe.
“He was a very good player and he’s kept in touch with the program. He’s been very, very loyal,” Kampe said. “He’s just a tremendous young man. We’re just praying that the best is going to happen.”