Ofir Engel, an 18-year-old who endured the harrowing experience of being taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7th, is making strides toward reclaiming his life in a place far removed from the conflict: the NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis.

Engel’s capture occurred during a visit to his girlfriend in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7th, a day that began with promise but quickly turned into a nightmare. Along with his girlfriend’s father, Engel was pushed into a small black vehicle at gunpoint and taken into Gaza. He was released on November 29 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal brokered between Israel and Hamas.

For most, the NBA All-Star Weekend is just another highlight in the sports calendar, but for Engel, it represented something far more significant. Accompanied by his friend Metanel, son of “Jewish Jordan” Tamir Goodman, and thanks to the efforts of sports agent Happy Walters, Engel found in the weekend’s game a profound moment of liberation and joy.