Elena Delle Donne’s first experience playing basketball in a foreign league ended quickly.
She is returning home from China days after she got there because of a flare up of Lyme disease.
The WNBA All-Star went over to the Asian country earlier this week to join Shanxi in the Chinese Basketball league for the playoffs. She announced in a news conference Wednesday that she would be coming back to the United States.
She has dealt with the bacterial disease since 2008, and it caused her to miss 18 games on three occasions in college at Delaware.
After seemingly having it under control, she sat out 17 games for the Sky in 2014. She’s been an ambassador for research on the disease for the past few years.
“Lyme disease is difficult to manage many times, especially now,” Delle Donne said at the short news conference. “I’m really struggling with my health right now. For my health the best thing for me is to return to the U.S.”
Delle Donne was taking the long flight home to Delaware on Wednesday night to undergo the care of her personal doctor. Since getting drafted second by the Sky in 2013, she has spent her WNBA offseasons either in Chicago or at home in Delaware, passing on potentially lucrative contracts overseas.
Shanxi won’t be able to replace Delle Donne as league rules only allow a team to sign one new foreign player for the postseason.
Besides dealing with her health, she has a busy few months in front of her before the WNBA season begins in May. She’s planning her wedding to Amanda Clifton after the pair got engaged on June 2.
Delle Donne’s future in the WNBA is also undergoing change. She’s a restricted free agent with the Sky, but a deal is in the works to send her to Washington according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been finalized yet.
Free agency started on Jan. 15 and players can’t sign officially until Feb. 1.
She averaged 21.5 points and seven rebounds for the Sky last season, but missed the end of the regular season and the playoffs because of a thumb injury that required surgery.
Chicago lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Los Angeles.