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Brittney Griner Tears Up Talking About Her Russian Detainment

by Joshua Brown
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Brittney Griner was stuck in a Russian prison for many months, far away from home. Even when things seemed so hopeless, she held onto hope and kept floating because of the pictures of her family which were with her half way around the world. Now she is back home and has even re-signed with Phoenix Mercury. And she is getting ready to write a book about all her experiences in Russia.

Griner, who was released recently, said that seeing the photos of her family and loved ones helped to give her hope when she was in a difficult situation. She had spent almost 10 months feeling unsafe and imprisoned in Russia for drug-related charges before she was freed through a prisoner swap.

After returning to the United States, Griner kept a quiet life and attended some notable events, such as the Super Bowl, PGA Tour Phoenix Open and a MLK Day celebration in Phoenix. On Thursday, there was a big public announcement made by her in the lobby of Footprint Center, which is jointly hosted by Phoenix Mercury team and NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Many people were present on this event.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs and the people from the Mercury organization gave Brittney Griner a big applause when she walked up to center stage.

Griner was really surprised and excited by all the media attention, looking at everyone with a huge grin on her face. “Wow, this is really different than a normal basketball press conference,” she said.

In February 2022, Griner made news around the world when she was arrested in Russia after a search of her luggage showed that it contained vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil. Later, she accepted guilt and received a nine-year jail sentence. After lots of talks between Washington and Moscow, Griner was exchanged for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in the United Arab Emirates on December 8th.

During the news conference, Griner tried to remain calm, but she became emotional when asked about how she stayed strong during her difficult situation. She said, “I’m used to facing tough times. This one was particularly hard. I kept pushing through by doing all that I can.”

When Brittney Griner came back to the U.S., she had to adjust. She went to San Antonio and got a basketball for the first time in almost a year. She wore tennis shoes on an outdoor court, and shot some shots – even trying to see if she can still dunk (surprise, she still can!). Griner said it felt like she was 16 again. Even though her ankles hurt afterwards, it felt great!

When Griner came back home to Phoenix, she was able to enjoy the sights of the city like never before. It felt amazing for her to be on U.S. soil again after being away for 10 months! Everywhere she went in Phoenix, everyone treated her with kindness and love to help her get back to normal life. Part of that normal life includes a return to the Mercury soon.

Right after getting out, Griner announced her intention to play in the WNBA this season and she even signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury. She is already a six-time All-Star and two-time winner of Defensive Player of the Year award! But at first, she felt overwhelmed by how quickly she had to ramp up her training before the Mercury’s opening game on May 19.

She said, “At first it was really overwhelming! I wanted to do everything so fast!”

“It was all worth it in the end,” said Griner who won’t be playing overseas unless it’s with Team USA. “I don’t ever want to play abroad again, except when I’m representing my country.”

Griner will be working with Bring Our Families Home – a campaign that started in 2022 that works to help bring back American hostages and people wrongfully detained in other countries.

Griner said that her team has been assisting the family of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who is currently being held in Russia due to charges of espionage. Griner and BOFH even made a mural with the faces of others that are also detained outside their home country. Lastly, Griner expressed how no one should experience such horrific conditions.

The time that RussianPrison held Griner in it was very depressing and made her feel hopeless. But when she saw the familiar faces of her family, she would feel optimism and hope again until she eventually reunited with them.

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