Basketball player Charles Tabet, who was once hailed as a national hero blocking shots for Lebanon, ended his sports career due to a deteriorating economy which has forced him into a new life selling cars in Michigan.
After a decade playing in his country of origin, the 33-year-old Lebanese-American returned last month to his native US state to restart anew with a different career.
“I sold my first vehicle today,” the 2.05-meter-tall (6 feet 9 inches) player wrote on social media, posting a snapshot of himself, eyes smiling above a face mask, next to a much shorter woman and her new white SUV.
Lebanon takes pride in the basketball sport of its national team that has qualified for several world cups. Two of his clubs were dominant forces in the Middle East and Asia two decades ago.
That’s in comparison to the national football team that has never made it past the Asian Cup group stages in two participations, let alone qualify for the World Cup.
In its prime time, basketball in Lebanon could draw huge crowds and TV audiences. However, with the economy in free fall, the nation is now losing some of its best basketball players, who are emigrating or switching from their jerseys to business shirts.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to retire,” Tabet told AFP. “I’ve played 10 years in Lebanon. I’ve made some great friends who I call family.”
“Playing basketball was how I supported myself and my family. With the economic crisis, it’s better for me to start my career in the States,” he added, and it is impossible to blame him despite Lebanon losing one of his best basketball players.
Over the past year, Lebanon has seen its Lebanese basketball league suspended. People are barely making it to provide for themselves and their families.
They have been tremendously struggling with their dollar savings trapped in banks and their purchasing power decreasing to minimal amid the country’s worst financial crisis in decades, if not ever.
“It’s sad and not the way I wanted to retire, but I’m excited for my next chapter in life,” Tabet said.
It is indeed sad for Lebanon, which has been just warned by a UK minister about an imminent hunger that could have been prevented by the country’s leaders. “Lebanon is on the verge of not being able to feed itself,” the minister warned, urging the ruling class to act and act fast.