Ex-Oakland U basketball star recounts Brussels attacks
A former Oakland University basketball player who was injured in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels gave an emotional “Good Morning America” interview from his hospital bed.
“I just didn’t want my girls to grow up without a dad,” Sebastien Bellin, 37, told ABC’s David Muir in a video released Thursday.
The injured man wiped tears from his eyes and held back sobs as he recounted two bombs exploding as he stood at a Brussels airport ticket counter, bound for New York City on business.
The first explosion rocked a nearby pharmacy, Bellin said.
“I turned my head and I saw all these people running and when I got there, I think I blacked out for a little bit,” he said. “I remember seeing two little kids to my right, and their little hands were up in the air.”
Bellin ended up on the airport floor, bloodied from shrapnel wounds to his legs and hips. A photograph of him, looking dazed in the aftermath, has circulated worldwide.
“The whole time I just told myself, ‘I’m gonna make it, I’m gonna make it, I’m gonna make it,’ ” Bellin said. “When I got into the ambulance I knew I was good ... but until then, I had no idea.”
Bellin told Muir that his wife, who lives in west Michigan, plans to make the trip overseas to visit. Thoughts of her and their two young daughters kept him alive after the blasts, Bellin said.
“It’s funny how many things you think of,” Bellin said. “I started playing tennis with my oldest one, my 7-year-old, she’s a hell of a tennis player. And so I was like, ‘Man, I have to get through this because she needs her coach.’
“Some of the things that go through your head, it may seem so trivial but it gets you through those moments.”
Bellin indicated he’s looking forward to recovery.
“So that’s it,” he said. “I’m here to fight another day.”
Bellin, at 6-foot-10, was a star center on Oakland University’s basketball team in the early 2000s, including during the team’s 2000 conference championship run, according to his former coach, Greg Kampe.
After college, Bellin returned to Belgium to play professional basketball there and in Italy for about a dozen years.
He works for a basketball scouting agency and commutes between Europe, New York City and west Michigan.