The fight to bring the legend home. WNBA star Brittney Griner has been in Russian custody since February 2022, and many of her fellow athletes are leading the charge to bring her back to the United States.
Ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals in June 2022, the Boston Celtics wore “WE ARE BG” T-shirts during practice. “The shirts were extremely important, not only to show our support for our sister who is imprisoned in Russia, Brittney Griner, but we just wanted to show that togetherness and love that we have through not only the NBA but also the WNBA,” the player Grant Williams he told ESPN about the team’s decision to wear the jerseys. “She has been a vital part of the WNBA over the years, both in college and in the amount of influence she has had on young female athletes, both in the US and abroad.”
LeBron James also called for swift action on the Olympic gold medalist’s case, sharing a social media post from his Uninterrupted platform encouraging the president Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris to continue to advocate for Griner’s return.
“We must come together and help do everything in our power to bring BG home quickly and safely!!” the Space Jam: The New Legacy star tweeted in June 2022, “Our voice as athletes is stronger together.”
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February 2022 while in the country playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. Russian authorities claimed that the athlete was carrying hashish oil in her luggage. News of her arrest and subsequent detention, however, did not emerge for several weeks.
US officials were initially hesitant to make any aggressive moves on Griner’s behalf due to Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine, but in May 2022 the State Department announced that the Phoenix Mercury player had been “unlawfully detained”. This change in status meant that officials could immediately begin negotiations for her release instead of waiting until her next Russian court hearing.
That same month, Griner’s detention was extended until at least mid-June 2022. In the meantime, the Texas native has been communicating with her friends and family through letters. “She jokes in her letters. I don’t know how he does it with what’s going on,” Amanda Zahui B.Los Angeles Sparks player, told the Associated Press to maintain contact with his colleague. “She is an amazing soul. She brings light to this situation. I don’t think many people could do that.”
ESPY winner’s wife, Cherelle Grinershe also offered her support from afar, speaking with the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about the case. “You say she’s the top priority, but I want to see that, and I feel like that would be to see BG on U.S. soil,” Cherelle said. Good morning America in May 2022
The Baylor University alum added that her wife only plays in Russia because the WNBA salaries are not lucrative enough to support their family. It is common for many WNBA players to go overseas in the off-season to supplement their income.
“BG would honestly prefer not to go overseas,” Cherelle explained. “She’s only had one Thanksgiving in the States in the nine years she’s been pro, and she misses it all. Just because, you know, she can’t make enough money in the WNBA, like, to support herself.”
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