A retired basketball player who was photographed lying in a pool of blood in Brussels Airport described the moment he was shot and thrown through the air by a bomb explosion.

Brazilian-born Sebastien Bellin, who played for Marist College and Oakland University and now lives in Michigan, said he remembered a first explosion at the pharmacy at the airport and people running. Before he knew it, he was shot in the hip and thrown in the air by a second blast.

"My 115 kilos was blown like a feather pillow," the 6'9" 37-year-old said.

As he lay in a puddle of his own blood, his thoughts quickly turned to his family, giving him the strength to fight.

"It's funny, the things you think of, he said to ABC News. "I just didn't want my girls to grow up without a dad.

"I started playing tennis with my oldest one, my seven-year-old - she's a hell of a tennis player. I was like, 'Man, I have got to get through this because she needs her coach.' And some of the things that go through your head, they seem so trivial but it gets you through those moments."

A photo of Bellin on the floor of the terminal with blood gushing from his leg became one of the most prominent photos to emerge from Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

His former agent Adam Prossin said that the former pro almost lost his leg.

"He must have been extremely close to the blast," Mr Prossin told Daily Mail. "He's lucky he made it, that's for sure."

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