By Ben Gordon
On Friday, September 29th, Sebastien Bellin captured the hearts of many as he spoke in the BHHS auditorium about his survival of the terrorist attacks at Brussels Airport in Belgium. On March 22, 2016, Bellin’s life was changed forever.
He was born in Brazil and had two brothers along with two step-brothers. Sebastien was a “third culture kid,” meaning he was a child raised in a culture other than his parents. As a kid, he loved to travel, which gave him a unique perspective of the world. He graduated high school at the International School of Brussels. With his 6-foot 9-inch frame and high-level basketball skills, Bellin earned a full basketball scholarship to Marist College and then transferred to Oakland University to continue his basketball career. Post college, he was good enough to play professional basketball in Italy and Belgium for 15 years.
On the morning of March 22, 2016, Sebastien Bellin was planning to get on a plane to fly back to New York. While in the waiting area, two bombs were set off in the airport, which caused severe damage. Bellin lost 50% of his blood and was “holding his legs thinking that they were about to fall off.” He also injured his tibia, fibula, and hip and lost 50% of the hearing in his left ear. The “physiological effects were harder to overcome than the physical,” Bellin noted. He was rushed to the hospital and had six surgeries during his three months there. The doctors were in shock that he was able to retain both of his legs, but they were even more amazed that he was alive.
The doctors had told him “he wouldn’t walk for a year and a half and his legs would have to be amputated.” He was walking in just four short months after the incident. After much recovery, Bellin was reunited with his two daughters in the hospital on May 1st. He loves them very much, and they were his motivation that gave him the will to survive.
Because of his experiences playing basketball, he did not panic under the pressure. He turned a negative into a positive and “took a lot of heat in the press in Europe as [he] said that it was a gift for me.” After the incident, Bellin was able learn many new things about life. The most important thing he learned in his life from basketball that could be applied to this situation was the concept of a team. Bellin became very close friends with his two surgeons, as he thinks they are “phenomenal people.” Fellow sophomore student Sam Goldman thought that “he did an excellent job of explaining how the quality of the people you surround yourself with is much more important that the quantity. He was truly inspiring.”
Toward the end of his presentation, he dove into the fact that quality versus quantity is a major factor in life. On the last night before heading back to the United States, his friend called him and asked to go to dinner four times before Bellin decided to go out. At the fancy Italian restaurant, he ordered his favorite dish: pasta carbonara. When Bellin was in the hospital, the doctors were shocked that he was still living after the amount of blood loss he had. They both came to a conclusion that the pasta carbonara raised his blood glucose level so high that he was able to restore just enough blood to survive. Sebastien Bellin said that he is ”lucky to have the quality of that one friend who cared so much about him to call him four times in order to go out with him,” which ironically may have saved his life.
Bellin connects to the new Global Scholars course offered at the school because he is viewed as a globally competent individual. According to asiasociety.org, the four quadrants of a globally competent person are investigating the world, recognizing perspectives, communication of ideas, and taking action.
Sebastien Bellin told us a moving story of how he survived the horrific attacks at the Brussels Airport. It is incredible that Bellin was able to overcome all of the obstacles that were in his way in order to survive.