After nearly 10 months in Russian detention where she was sent to a penal colony that had weather so bad she had to cut off her signature locs, two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is finally home after being traded for an arms dealer.
On Thursday, Griner flew home as part of a one-for-one prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner is currently at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where she is getting reacclimated to civilian life, her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas told ESPN.
Days later, Colas said Griner hopped into a pair of black Chucks, Phoenix Suns shorts, and a Title IX t-shirt and picked up a basketball for the first time since February, when she was wrongfully detained for trace amounts of cannabis in her luggage.
The first thing she did was dunk the ball.
Colas added that Griner doesn’t yet know when or if she’ll return to the WNBA to play for her team, the Phoenix Mercury. She is expected to release a statement this week.
“If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to rest and decide what’s next without any pressure,” her agent told ESPN. “She’s doing really, really well. She seems to have endured this in pretty incredible ways.”
While Griner was in the Moscow jail where she spent most of her time, she declined her lawyers’ offer to bring her a basketball, saying she wasn’t ready to think about the game.
The Mercury released a statement upon hearing Griner was coming home.
“Miraculously, mercifully, the count of days detained has ended at 294, and our friend, our sister is headed back home where she belongs. The emotions for our organization, just like for our fans and so many across the world, are those of joyous celebration, deep gratitude, grief for the time lost, and sincere hope for all families still awaiting the return of a loved one. BG’s strength in this process, her unwavering belief that resolution would come, and the hope she displayed every day is what kept all of us believing this day would come,” the WNBA team said.
“We are eternally grateful for the combined work of President Biden and Vice President Harris and the Administration, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, to Cherelle Griner, Ray and Sandra Griner, Brittney’s agent Lindsay Colas, Brittney’s Russian counsel, the WNBA and Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, the WNBA Players Association, and everyone – from players to fans to media – who kept Brittney’s story top-of-mind. The fight to bring her home has illustrated the power of the WNBA, its players, platform, and mission. We no longer have to Bring BG Home – she’s on her way.”
Griner and her wife, Cherelle, have been staying in a hotel on the base, reuniting with family members and deciding what to do with her freedom.
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