Elena Delle Donne is returning home from China because of a flare up from Lyme disease, the star announced on Wednesday. She was set to play for the Shanxi Flames in the Chinese Basketball Association.
The former MVP has had the disease since 2008. She missed time in college at Delaware and in the WNBA due to the symptoms of the treatable, but incurable disease.
She’s been open about talking about Lyme, and was named the Lyme Research Alliance’s first National Ambassador in 2014. She was awarded the LRA’s Star Light Award for stepping forward as a role model.
"At the beginning, I struggled a little bit with sharing that I have Lyme disease and that I was ill, especially because when you're a professional athlete you need to seem healthy and that you're going to be able to contribute to a team," Delle Donne told the Daily Herald in 2014. "But I thought to myself that if someone else is experiencing what I've experienced and they hear my story and I can help them, that's great and far more important to me.”
In recent weeks Delle Donne’s name has also flown among trade rumors. She is currently a restricted free agent, but could be headed to the Washington Mystics once the offseason wraps up. Per a Swish Appeal report, a trade rumor includes Mystics center Stefanie Dolson and the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft.
The 6’5 forward has been vocal during the league’s offseason about playing somewhere else.
Delle Donne averaged 22 points per game last season on 43 percent three-point shooting in the league’s second-most efficient offense. But she missed the end of the regular season and the entirety of the WNBA playoffs with a thumb injury that required surgery. Her Sky team advanced to the semifinals, but fell short to the eventual champion L.A. Sparks without their superstar.
If the Mystics are able to add her, they could become an immediate contender.