(TPS/Courtesy Asael Shabo)
Asael Shabo

A wounded survivor of a brutal terror attack that killed his mother and three brothers did not give up. An accomplished athlete, he has now joined a prestigious European wheelchair basketball league.

Israeli wheelchair basketball player Asael Shabo has signed on with Hamburg to Germany’s wheelchair basketball league Rollstuhlbasketball-Bundesliga (RBBL).

Shabo, 24, lost his right leg in a Palestinian terror attack at his home in Itamar, Samaria, in 2002. His mother and three brothers were killed in the attack; nine-year-old Asael survived by pretending he was dead.

Following the attack, he became known for his sports prowess as a swimmer during his long rehabilitation at the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled in Ramat Gan, first for swimming and later moving to basketball. By 2012 he was considered a candidate for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, but eventually gave up competitive swimming for basketball.

In recent years, in addition to basketball, Shabo has become a noted teacher, sports coach and motivational speaker. Last month he completed a bachelor’s degree in physical education at the Orde Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports, south of Netanya.

He told TPS that the decision to take the German offer came with a host of emotional and logistical considerations.

“Of course, it’s hard to leave home and my family,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to make a name for myself as a teacher and coach, as well as a speaker. And that’s a key part of who I am today: Talking to young people about what I went through, and helping them develop tools to succeed in life.

“But this is such a great opportunity, I couldn’t say no. The chance to play basketball at the highest level is something I’ve dreamed about for years. I don’t speak German, but I’ll learn it along the way,” he added.

Hamburg finished in third place last year. The team will begin pre-season training on September 12, with the opening game of the season scheduled for September 30.

By: Andrew Friedman/TPS