Ethan was born in a successful family. He lived comfortably until he was about 19 years old, but at that point life began to change. Both his parents were killed in a car accident which was planned by his father's business partner who wanted to take over the company Ethan's father co-owned, after that his father's partner framed Ethan of a murder that had the same "Modus Operandi" as several other brutal Chernorussian politician related murders. After that he was taken prisoner by the US police and was extradited to Chernarus due to the political nature of the crimes he was framed for.
While in prison, Ethan always kept a low profile as he was an outsider in a prison full of chernorussian criminals. He managed to survive but it was rough as the other inmates gave him a hard time, he tried to make friends but failed until he met a young guard by the name of Anton Novikoff who he eventually became friends with but this was quickly noticed by the other guards and was punished. Ethan was alone again.
Troubling news came from Chernarus, making the prison move the inmates to a military base inland. This didn't work as the military transport never arrived, leaving the guards clueless as to what to do with the prisoners until a broadcast came in ordering all the guards to execute the prisoners or face death as traitors to their homeland. The prisoners were escorted to the auditorium with the promise of freedom but they instead locked them inside and threw deadly gas into the room.
Before this, Anton warned Ethan and told him to hide inside solitary confinement, Anton had opened the food hatch and left a key for Ethan to escape after the guards had vacated the area.