BEIJING, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Marcus Williams, the first player banned for doping in China's professional basketball league, left for the United States on Friday.
The Shanxi guard, receiving a six months ban from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) on December 31 after testing positive marijuana, bade farewell to his fans.
"I am truly humbled by the love that this city has given me during such a tough time. It truly inspires me to only improve from this situation, and redemption is all that is on my mind," Williams wrote in his microblog on Sina.com.
"I love what China and the CBA has given me. It is truly a second home for me," he said, posting a picture appearing to be shot in the airport where a number of fans were seeing him off.
Williams, 26, kicked off his stint in China in 2010 with Zhejiang club before he was transferred in 2011 to Shanxi where he turned into one of the most shining stars in the league.
The former San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers player was forced to cut his 2012-2013 season short after he was found using marijuana, which he cited medical reasons. Marijuana was strictly banned in China.
Williams' contract with Shanxi runs until 2014 and the club said they will welcome Williams back as long as his return "complies with the CBA's regulation".