This war is hitting close to home with some strong ties to the Miami Valley, and a former University of Dayton basketball player is sharing his experience.
Flyer fans should remember Vee Sanford well. A key piece of UD’s Elite Eight run in 2014, he hit the game-winning shot against Ohio State at the start of that NCAA Tournament run.
Now a player in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, Sanford’s one of many people just trying to get out of the country after this weekend’s violence.
Sanford is just one of many Americans who have had to evacuate the region, but he tells me that he is grateful to the league for doing all that it can to bring him and other players to safety.
Through a video call, the former UD standout told 2 NEWS he already has seen military personnel in the streets of Israel. He describes the scene inside the airport as people try to evacuate as chaotic.
“It’s just been a little mind-boggling to see and know what’s going on in the country, that war,” said Sanford. “So it doesn’t seem real, but when you’re here, you see a little chaotic and it brings you back to reality of of actually going on.”
Sanford said following the attack by Hamas, the league is following evacuation protocol to get the players to safety. He said the team will travel to and train in Greece while they assess how the situation in Israel resolves over hopefully just the next few days and weeks.
Sanford said this is his ninth year playing professional basketball for more than six countries. In all of his travels, he said he’s never seen anything like this.
Ultimately, he hopes all sides can be heard and peace can be reached.
Ryan Mikesell, another former UD player was also a part of the Americans evacuating from Israel over the weekend.
According to a Facebook post from his father, Ryan is now out of the country and safe in Cyprus.
He thanks the U.S. and the league for helping Americans get home.