In June 2002, terror struck the Shabo family. Two PFLP terrorists infiltrated the town of Itamar and broke into the Shabo’s home.
Asael Shabo, who was 9 years old at the time of the attack, was sitting watching television with his younger brother, Avishai.
When the terrorists entered the house, they began firing wildly. Asael was badly wounded in the attack, while his mother, younger brother Avishai, and two older brothers were all killed.
Asael Shabo lost his right leg in the attack, and spent years in the hospital recovering from the physical trauma.
As part of his long rehabilitation process, Shabo became active in sports, playing basketball with the Israel Sports Association for the Disabled.
Despite his severe physical and emotional trauma, Shabo excelled in the sport, and in 2013 he was part of the Israeli team at the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships.
On Tuesday Shabo reached another milestone, winning Israeli Paralympics national cup. Now he’s preparing to head back to Europe, with a number of teams looking to draft him.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Shabo described the attack which robbed him of his family and left him confined to a wheelchair.
“In the attack I lost my leg after being shot three times in the knee; I was also wounded by two grenades which exploded [near me]. I was very severely injured and was hospitalized for a year and eight months; I went through a very long recovery both physically and emotionally over the course of nine years.”
While Shabo has become famous as a basketball player, he began his sports career in swimming.
“The doctors told me it wasn’t a good idea since I’m full of metal, but I’m stubborn and they saw that it helped me. I had some great achievements in swimming including holding the national record, and we went to a lot of competition; I’m also a swimming trainer for children with disabilities. But since [I picked up] swimming [during my recovery] in the years immediately after the terror attack and its come to remind me of the attack, I decided to start something else.”
Interestingly, Shabo’s basketball career began with a chance encounter.
“I met a basketball trainer at a gym, and he offered me to try it out. I sat up in my wheelchair and started to play and simply fell in love with the game. We’ve now won the national cup twice, and around Passover time we’ll be flying to Europe for the Euroleague tournament.”
Beyond his career in basketball, Shabo is finishing up a BA in physical education. He is invited to speak to audiences around the country, and also helps train children with disabilities.
“More than anything else, I am a trainer for disabled children; I want to give them hope so that they go through [the process] more easily than I did.”
“I don’t think about how my life would have turned out [if there hadn’t been the attack], but obviously if the attack hadn’t happened I would be like every IDF combat soldier that grew up in Samaria to a family with seven kids; but since what happened I try to give a lot of strength and hope to people by speaking publicly.”