For Las Vegas Aces forward Dearica Hamby, the saying there’s no place like home never had greater meaning than during the COVID-19 global pandemic when she returned to the U.S. from Italy and later moved into her new place in Henderson.
The 26-year-old returned to the U.S. March 18 after a harrowing experience in Italy where she was quarantined in her apartment, placed on a no-fly list and feared she could be arrested if she tried to leave beforehand.
Hamby and her team, Passalacqua Trasporti Virtus Eirene Ragusa, which is based in Sicily, got caught up in the restrictions after they played a game March 3 in Milan, a hotspot for the coronavirus, and returned to Sicily.
Hamby and her 3-year-old daughter, Amaya, and mother, Carla, were hunkered down in Hamby’s apartment in Sicily when President Donald Trump on March 12 imposed a travel ban to European countries.
Americans were excluded from the ban, but Hamby took no chances and promptly sent her daughter and mom back the next day to her native Atlanta. She wanted to go with them, but with the restrictions, potential legal consequences and being under contract to the Serie A1 league team she dared not leave.
Hamby, who was the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year in 2019, is like many players who go overseas to play and supplement their income once the WNBA season is finished. This was her third year playing for the Italian team.
All Hamby could think about during her self-quarantine without her mom and daughter was getting back to the U.S. Three weeks ago, she returned to Las Vegas where she had closed on a home in the Inspirada master plan while she was playing overseas.
Hamby even signed off on buying the home while in Italy and didn’t see it in person until a brief return to Las Vegas in November.
She closed on Dec. 23 for $399,900 with her buyer’s agent Realtor Stacy Conner of Windermere Prestige Properties. Robert Morganti of Life Realty was the listing agent.
“I saw a Zillow link, and I showed it to Stacy and she went to it and sent a video of it,” Hamby said. “I was ‘yeah; I’ll take that.’ I looked at like two homes before taking that one. I wasn’t looking at the location. I knew it wasn’t too far from Mandalay Bay (where the Aces play). I didn’t know this at the time, but the Raiders’ practice facility is five minutes from my house. At some point I assume we will get (a practice facility in the area) as well, and I’ll be right here.”
The two-story Inspirada home built in 2018 and had one occupant and measures 2,148 square feet. It has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. It has an open floor plan, kitchen with 42-inch raised panel cabinets, quartz countertops.
“It’s pretty modern, which is what I was looking for and open,” Hamby said. “I’m not a fan of Spanish-looking homes, and that limited my options. It has a backyard big enough for my daughter, and the community is really nice.”
Hamby said she likes having a park and pool in the neighborhood.
Hamby is one of the few Aces to buy a home. In April 2019, guard Kelsey Plum closed on a William Lyon’ Affinity condo in Summerlin for $407,425.
During her first two years in Las Vegas, Hamby stayed at the Aces’ team housing but said she bought now because “she plans to be in Vegas as long as I keep playing. I talked to (Aces coach) Bill Laimbeer about that, and he said plan to be here for a long term. ‘If you want to buy a house you should go ahead and do it.’ The other reason is I wanted to stay home from overseas. The market out here is good for the West Coast.”
The Georgia native said she eventually wants to buy a home there someday but chose Las Vegas first because that’s where she works four to five months of the year.
“The team helps pay for your housing so why not,” Hamby said.
The home has a bedroom on the first floor for her mom when she stays with her. The floor also has the living room, dining room and kitchen.
On the second floor, Hamby said there’s a movie room, her daughter’s room, which has a white-and-pink decor, and her master bedroom, which has a closet the size of many bathrooms.
“The hallway is spaced out like a loft,” Hamby said. “It’s not big enough to do anything with but I have a bench there.”
The living room is a navy blue-and-gray theme and it transitions to navy blue and black in the kitchen. The kitchen has white cabinets and grey countertops, Hamby said.
“I have a grey couch and white marble tables. I have a lot of white in the house, which looks really good. I’m scared now because I have a dog (and a white rug),” Hamby said laughing about her bichon poodle named Kaiden. Hamby said she planned the decor of her home virtually.
While in Italy, Hamby would click to the online furniture store Wayfair.com to pick out the furnishings.
“There is only one thing I ordered that I didn’t like and had to push it out,” Hamby said. “The bed was kind of flimsy. Everything else placed well. I’m pretty proud.”
As for her future, Hamby said she is taking a wait-and-see attitude but prefers to remain in the U.S. full time. The Aces’ WNBA season scheduled to start May 17 in Las Vegas has been postponed because of the coronavirus.
“I don’t plan on going overseas but if something comes up, and I feel like I have to take it, I will,” Hamby said. “I’m not going to rush to go back overseas though.” Hamby was the leading scorer on her Italian team averaging 21 points a game.
“We were playing a game with Milan, and as soon as we got back home they said we were in the hot zone,” Hamby said. “They said if you have traveled in Milan within the last two weeks before, you had to self-quarantine for two weeks. The way they initially said it to me was you will go to jail and be on a no-fly list. I was paranoid.”
Hamby said she got out of her contract (the season was later cancelled) and left Italy March 18 to return to Atlanta to reunite with her mom and daughter.
“It was a relief (to get on a jet in Rome), but I was sad because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Hamby said. “I was sad about leaving my team like that. We were going to win the championship.”
Hamby said she’s just starting to resume training after taking a much-needed break, even though no one knows when professional sports, including the WNBA will resume, possibly without fans in the stands.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” Hamby said. “I think we will play, but I don’t know. They’re going to have to figure something out.”
Hamby said she and her daughter are getting settled in their new home as they wait out the coronavirus with the rest of Las Vegas. She said she’s waiting “on a few more pieces like portraits but all the big stuff is pretty much done. I’m happy. It quite doesn’t have the home feel yet, but it will get there. I just need time.”