Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(BRUSSELS) — NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo described the harrowing scene at the Brussels airport in the wake of the terror attack during an interview with ESPN.
The former NBA star was connecting in Brussels on his way home from a humanitarian trip in his native country of Congo when the bombs went off, he said. It had been 10 to 20 minutes since he put his bags down in the terminal when a woman walked in screaming for everyone to get out and run.
When he got downstairs, all he saw was chaos, panic and people bleeding, he said during the interview.
“There was nobody to walk to,” Mutombo said. “All I can see is everybody running. So, I decided to run myself.”
First, he tried to figure out where the chaos was coming from so he wouldn’t get caught in the line of fire, he said, calling himself “lucky.”
Mutombo said the weather was frigid outside and several people weren’t dressed appropriately. He was standing outside for hours when two Americans approached him asking if he was the basketball player. They told him to follow them and he walked with them for a “couple miles” to get away from the scene.
Mutombo said the three of them traveled to a “safe area” where he had shelter and a place to sleep. Around 4 a.m. Wednesday, a representative from the U.S. embassy picked them up and drove them to the Amsterdam airport, where Mutombo said he got a flight back to the U.S.
“You just don’t know when you will have an angel on your side,” he said, calling the Americans he met his “two angels.”
A series of bombings in Brussels killed 31 people and injured at least 270 Tuesday. Belgian authorities continue to search for two suspects on the loose.
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