Former University of Findlay basketball player Martyce Kimbrough began his second year playing professional basketball in Spain this year. But his season was cut short on March 11, when President Donald Trump announced travel from Europe to the United States would be suspended.
“My first reaction to Trump shutting off travel to Europe was somewhat of a shock because I wasn’t aware [of] how serious the virus was at that time. My mother was also planning to come to Spain in April, so it messed up our plans as well as many other families obviously,” said Kimbrough.
Spain has been one of the countries hit the hardest by COVID-19. According to the Spanish Health Ministry, the country has had more than 214,535 cases of the coronavirus with more than 22,157 deaths as of April 22.
It was a little more than a month ago when Kimbrough recognized how serious the pandemic was becoming.
“At that point, I knew it was time to take serious action on my behalf since governments around the world were taking serious action. I had to make a decision on if I wanted to stay in Spain or come back to America as soon as possible,” said Kimbrough.
The journey to Lima, Ohio from Marbella, Spain was stressful to say the least.
“I would see a cheap price [for a flight], try to buy it, and by that time the price might have went up by over two thousand dollars,” Kimbrough said. “So, I had to try around 10 times to finally successfully purchase a ticket.”
He flew out of Madrid, Spain on March 14. He then would fly to Paris, France, from Paris he flew to Atlanta, Georgia and then finally made it home on March 17.
“My flight was delayed for hours because of the virus. Other flights turned around mid-air and went back to their starting points because of the virus also,” Kimbrough said. “[There were] tons of people with delayed or canceled flights [and a] majority of people [were] wearing masks and gloves. It was also difficult because some people are speaking English, some speak French, Spanish, German, [or] Italian.”
When he finally came back into the states, tests were done to ensure the safety of the passengers.
“When I landed, each passenger on our plane had to fill out paperwork and they tested all of the passenger’s temperature and [if they had trouble] breathing,” said Kimbrough.
He currently plays for CB Marbella in the Spanish Basketball League, LEB Plata, where he was having both individual and team success this year. LEB Plata is currently suspended due to the virus. While Kimbrough thinks this season is over, if he can safely return to play, he’s ready and willing.
“Our team was on a 10-game win streak, I was leading our team in points per game with 15 points per game, [and] I was also leading the league in made 3-point field goals per game,” said Kimbrough.
On Monday, April 13, CNN reported that Spain began a partial lift of the lockdown in place sending thousands of people in construction and manufacturing back to work. On Wednesday, April 22, Bloomberg reported that Spain extended a state of emergency until May 9.
Kimbrough says he’s ready to get back to work when the time comes.
“I will go back to finish this season if it resumes. But if it cancels, which I assume it will, I will be staying in America and focus on improving and preparing for next season.”