The photo, troubling in the extreme, shows Sebastien Bellin lying on the floor of the Zaventem Airport in Brussels, Belgium, immediately after Tuesday morning’s terrorist attack. His face, partially covered in ash, is vacant. His jeans are torn. Blood has pooled under his left leg.
At least 34 people died as a result of three separate explosions – two at the airport, and another at the subway station in Brussels — according to news reports. Some 200 were injured, including the 37-year-old Bellin, who played basketball for two years at Marist and another at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., ending in 2000.
In a statement on Oakland’s web page, Golden Grizzlies coach Greg Kampe called Bellin “one of the biggest supporters and cheerleaders for the Oakland basketball program.”
Now they, and others, are pulling for him.
My ex player Seb Bellin was injured in the Brussels bombing. Going for second surgery. Please pray for Seb.
— Greg Kampe (@KampeOU) March 22, 2016
— Travis Bader (@DarthBader3) March 22, 2016
Athletic Director Jeff Konya said in a statement that Tuesday’s attacks, for which the terror group ISIS has claimed responsibility, were “a senseless tragedy,” and expressed particular concern for Bellin.
“Seb is a really good person through and through,” he said. “We are fortunate that he is an engaged Oakland family member and we are better for it.”
Kampe, the Grizzlies’ coach since they became a Division I team in 1999, told the Detroit News that he does not believe Bellin’s injuries are life-threatening, while at the same time saying his former player has “a lot of shrapnel in his legs and hips.”
“I was told he’s in a lot of pain but he’s doing OK,” Kampe told the News.
Bellin played overseas for 14 years, according to his LinkedIn page, ending in 2014. Since May 2012 he has served as the senior vice president for sales and business development for Keemotion, a Belgium-based company that automates the filming of sporting events.
Kampe told the News that Bellin commutes between Europe, New York and western Michigan, where his wife and two young children live. He was catching a flight to New York on Tuesday, the coach added, and the two of them planned to speak on Friday about the pro prospects of Oakland senior Max Hooper. Kampe told the News he was not certain if Bellin also planned to visit his family during his trip stateside.
“We got ahold of someone that worked with him, who had dropped him off, and they told us (the explosion) was six to 10 minutes after,” Kampe told CBSSports.com. “He was in line to get ticketed, and the bomb went off maybe 100 yards away.”
Belgian basketball team BC Telenet Oostende, one of nine clubs for which Bellin played, tweeted the graphic photo of him following the attacks and noted he had been blown some 20 meters (about 65 feet) by the blast.
“We wish our former player Sebastien Bellin … much strength and a speedy recovery,” the club tweeted, adding later that he had undergone surgery. Kampe told the News he would require a second surgery as well.
Bellin, who stands 6-9, was born in Brazil. He spent the 1996-97 and ’97-98 seasons at Marist, then averaged 8.1 points and 5.2 rebounds for Oakland’s Mid-Continent Conference championship team in 1999-00. (The Grizzlies moved to the Summit League in 2007 and have been part of the Horizon League since 2013.)
According to his LinkedIn page, he earned his degree in international business from Oakland in 2001. He played professionally for teams in Italy, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, in addition to Belgium. He once played for that country’s national team as well.
But his heart remained in the U.S., with his family and his alma mater.
“He’s one of those rare athletes that, he got to start every game here and got to win a championship and he thought Oakland changed his life,” Kampe told CBSSports.com. “His girlfriend at the time became his wife. He works the summer camp, works out with our players. After he retired he stayed in contact with me. We text, email all the time. After a good win he’d always email me. After a loss, ‘What the hell happened?’ He’s one of the rare guys who believes in Oakland and believes in all that stuff.”
As a result, everyone at the school wants to be there for him.
“Please pray for Seb,” Kampe tweeted.