NAIT Ooks basketball player Yasser Abdullahi shares story of surviving suicide bombing

The NAIT Ooks basketball team is hoping to have guard Yasser Abdullahi for the next few years.

But that might be easier said than done. Abdullahi spent 11 years in Montreal, and that’s the longest he has been in any place.

“Home is where the heart is,” said Abdullahi. “There’s not one place where I would say home is, right now. But if I were to claim anywhere it would be Montreal.”

His life and family have taken him from Ottawa to Somalia, Qatar, Kenya, Montreal, Edmonton, and even Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray.

“I lived in Dubai for three years,” said Abdullahi.  “I lived in Kenya for a year, I lived in Qatar for six months, lived in Somalia for six months.”

While Abdullahi was born in Ottawa, Somalia is where his family is from. He’s been there many times, including an unforgettable trip in 2013. One Friday morning after prayer, his family went to a restaurant on a beach when just metres away a suicide bomber set off an explosion.

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“You’re not understanding what’s happening but you can see everything that’s happening,” says Abduhalli, thinking back on the terrifying incident. “There was a brief moment where I was just in shock.”

When the shock wore off, his first thought went to his mom.

“All I could remember was her on the table just holding her face,” said Abdullahi.

She had a severe cut on her face that Abdullahi described like an orange peel hanging off the fruit.

As they were rushing to get her to the hospital, Abdullahi, who was 16 years old at the time, was trying to gather their belongings.

“I [saw] parts of the guy’s body just laying on the floor,” said the basketball player. “It was awful.

“I just grabbed everything and ran to the car and from then on we were just holding tight with prayers.”

His mother fully recovered after plastic surgery, although she still has shrapnel in her arm which can cause discomfort.

Read more: At least 10 dead after explosion in Somalia capital, police say

Abdullahi has been back to the country since, most recently in January when he was part of Somalia’s national basketball team at the Africa Cup. He couldn’t play due to passport issues, but hopes to be a part of the team again.

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“I want to put Somalia on the map.”

He’s helped put the Ooks on the map, after winning a national championship with the school in 2016. He also won a city championship with Ross Sheppard High School in his Grade 12 year in 2015.

Read more: Edmonton basketball player looking to build on successful NCAA freshman season

Now he’ll be veteran presence on his return to the Ooks.

“He just brings a different perspective of life to our team which is great,” said head coach Slav Kornik.

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