Brussels bombing survivor: Fear is an illusion

Sebastien Bellin
Sebastien Bellin, who was injured in the March 2016 bombing at the Brussels Airport, speaks to sixth-graders in Charlotte about his experience. (May 23, 2017)


CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WOOD) — Sebastien Bellin was nearly killed in the 2016 bombing in Brussels. Tuesday, he told his story to a group of students at Charlotte Middle School.

Bellin just happened to be scheduled to speak the day after a terrorist attack in Manchester, England, where at least 22 people were killed and dozens were injured when a bomb went off at an Ariana Grande concert.

“Women, children, families, attending a concert, which is a happy moment,” Bellin said of the Manchester attack. “Then the other extreme is a split second sheer terror.”

Bellin played for Oakland University’s basketball team before joining a Belgian professional team. He now lives in Battle Creek with his wife and family.

On March 22, 2016, he was nearly killed in the bombing at Brussels Airport.

Sebastien Bellin, Brussels attacks
In this photo provided by Georgian Public Broadcaster and photographed by Ketevan Kardava, Brazilian basketball player Sebastien Bellin, who formerly played for the Belgian national basketball team, lies wounded on the floor of the Brussels Airport in Brussels, Belgium, after explosions ripped through the departure hall Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

He recommended survivors take recovery one step at a time.

“When an experience of this magnitude happens to you, there’s so much to overcome,” Bellin said. “My message to them is to not try and do everything at once. Try to break it down into really small steps.”

Bellin said he still remembers seeing the face of a dead woman who was next to him. Now he’s telling his story to help others.

“In this case, I can tell you that I’m a lot more confident person, a lot more fulfilled because I know fear holds no power over me,” he said.

He said fear is an illusion. It’s something he shares with other survivors or grade schoolers.

“One of the ways I chose to beat them is to say, ‘Look, life goes on. I’m still standing,’” he said.