WNBA champion and two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Brittney Griner was detained in Russia late February, after customs officials in Moscow found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage.
Brittney Griner is a WNBA legend who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, with career highlights that include; a WNBA Championship, two-time WNBA defensive player of the year, six-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA Peak Performer, two-time all-WNBA first team, three-time all-WNBA second team, three-time all-WNBA defensive first team, three-time all WNBA defensive second team and is an eight-time recipient of the WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week award.
The WNBA has released a statement standing in solidarity with family and friends advocating for Griner’s safe and expedited return to the United States.
“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”-WNBA PR Statement
During the offseason, WNBA athletes like Brittney Griner travel abroad to play in Professional Basketball Leagues for better paying opportunities. Griner has played for the Brifor UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League since 2015 and in five games this season, averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
“Like many athletes competing in the WNBA, Griner plays abroad during the WNBA offseason because her salary is exponentially higher in other countries. Professional athletes never know when their careers will come to an end. Thus, they must compete today with tomorrow’s financial security in mind.”-Tamryn Spruill / Women’s Basketball Journalist
Shaken by the news, athletes around the globe and WNBA teams are closely monitoring the situation as news continues to unfold;
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”-Phoenix Mercury PR Statement
Staying strong, Cherellet Griner, Brittney Griner’s wife, took to instagram to express her love and share encouraging words;
“We love you babe! People say “stay busy.” Yet, there’s not a task in this world that could keep any of us from worrying about you. My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats everyday that goes by. I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You’re our person! There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family.-Cherellet Griner
WNBA teams, teammates and athletes around the world are advocating Griner’s release. Journalist Tamryn Spruill, who covers women’s basketball, started a petition Saturday March 5th to “Secure Brittney Griner’s Swift and Safe Return to the U.S.” which can be found on Change.org. In the last 48 hours thousands have joined the petition, calling for Brittney’s return to the U.S. .
“Griner is a beloved global citizen who has used her platform since her entry into the WNBA to help others.” Spruill continues, “Professional athletes never know when their careers will come to an end… These realities are not the fault of the players. They simply want to be paid their worth like their male counterparts, and they do not deserve to be entangled in geopolitical turmoil for doing so. Thus, we call on elected officials in this country to secure the safe and swift return of Brittney Griner to the U.S.”-Tamryn Spruill / Petition Page