Former Badger star Happ returns from Italy with cautionary tale

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 10:52 PM CDT
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Former University of Wisconsin basketball star Ethan Happ has a cautionary tale for us.

His first professional basketball season was suspended due to the coronavirus. Not here in the states, but in the country that has been crippled by COVID-19, Italy.

Happ, who was playing in Cremona, Italy, not far from Milan, is back at his parent’s home in Milan, Illinois.

He is serving a self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving back in the states last Thursday night. His parents have moved into a hotel as a precaution.

Ethan admitted in our phone conversation on Tuesday that as an athlete, like he suspects many athletes and younger people feel, he felt a sense of invincibility, even as the virus was detected in Italy. But that feeling disappeared as quickly as the disease spread.

“Obviously, I wasn't in the hospitals but it was passed down to us firsthand from the team” said Happ. “And to live in a country like that, and in a situation like that, where they were just picking and choosing who they were going to treat and who they were just going to say best of luck to; and to come back here and to see on social media and Instagram, and all this stuff, that people are still out and about in packed places, in packed concerts, it makes me upset."

"There were a couple of weeks there where the numbers were growing and my teammates were still going out to eat at restaurants and things like that. I'm sure people were still going out to clubs, just like they are in America right now.”

Happ has watched from home as more and more measures are being taken to try to curb the spread of the virus, including Wisconsin closing bars and restaurants in the state on Tuesday.

“I think that the government has acted well, maybe a little too late because maybe they thought people would see what was going on in other countries and do it themselves.”

Happ feels fine, and has no symptoms so he hasn't been tested. But he understands the situation he is in and why, and wishes others would too. “It's not about you, it's not about me. If I acted for just myself, then I would be out with my friends and enjoying seeing my family, and everything like that. But it's bigger than that.

You could carry it and infect 30 people before you know it, and that reaches the older population really quickly. And that is when the hospitals get overrun, and that is really the tragedy that was happening in Italy and I hope we can keep from happening here.”

Happ’s American teammate in Cremona is former Fond du Lac High School and Marquette star Travis Diener. The two traveled back to the states together, and Happ says Diener is self-quarantined in his home in Milwaukee, but feeling fine.

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