Sports

Brittney Griner – All About WNBA’s Biggest Star

Brittney Griner

Who is Brittney Griner?

Brittney Griner, or Brittney Yvette Griner, is an American professional basketball player born on October 18, 1990. She plays for Phoenix Mercury in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Griner wears a men’s U.S. size 17 shoe and is 6 feet 9 inches tall with an arm span of 87.5 inches.  

Griner and Her Achievements

She was a six-time WNBA All-Star and an Olympic gold medallist with the U.S. women’s national basketball team. In 2023, Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 most essential individuals in the world. Rivals.com also named her as the nation’s No. 1 high school women’s basketball player in 2009, and after that, she was selected for the All-American basketball team.

She was a member of the Waco, Texas, Baylor Lady Bears collegiate basketball team. In 2012, the three-time All-American had a breakthrough year as she received the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award, the AP Player of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and she guided Baylor to the National Championship. In addition, Griner is the first player in NCAA basketball history to have 2,000 points and 500 blocks.

Professionally, Griner was chosen by the Phoenix Mercury, whom she played with in the 2014 WNBA title, as the first overall choice in the 2013 WNBA draft. Griner led the 2016 Olympic women’s basketball team from the United States to victory in Rio.

Griner received her second gold medal when she was selected for the national squad for the 2020 Olympics, which were held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2021. Along with Team USA, she won the FIBA Women’s World Cup twice in 2014 and 2018.

Brittany Griner – Prison and Book Release

Brittney Griner, a WNBA star, was released after ten months of being in Russian captivity on December 8, 2022. She was released in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout. She was unaware of the geopolitical strategies used to get her out of jail and the hardships her wife, Cherelle, and family were facing in the US. She got to know it when she shook hands with Bout on a tarmac in Abu Dhabi on February 17, the year she was arrested for bringing cannabis vape cartridges into Russia.

Brittney agreed to bring them to Russia. However, she said she had accidentally packed them. Following her detention, it became evident that, although legally guilty, she would not face the same treatment as a criminal defendant. Instead, she would be held captive by Vladimir Putin’s regime, much like former US Marine Paul Whelan had been for three years at that point.

She was initially given a nine-year sentence, but Viktor Bout got her out in return. At that time, she learned about how politically affected her case was back home and the post-traumatic stress she had to undergo after her release.

Brittany shared her experience in her memoir – Coming Home, written by Michelle Burford. She appeared in the 20/20 special with Good Morning America and spoke about her conditions in her jail. She described her stay filled with hard labor, frigid temperatures, spider infestations, and many other horrors.

She continued saying that she was unsure of whether or not she would ever make it back home and even thought of attempting suicide. She is still battling with her ordeal, and she believes that she led everyone down. 

She stayed in very tough conditions in the Russian prison and was transferred to IK-2, an isolated penal colony in Mordovia – 300 miles outside Moscow for her sentence. She stayed in an inhuman kind of condition in that cell. Griner was seen stating, “The mattress had a huge blood stain on it and they give you these thin two sheets, so you’re basically laying on bars.”

Griner stated that prisoners were only given one toilet roll per month and a toothpaste that expired 15 years back. Instead of using it as a toothpaste, she used it to kill the black mold on her cell’s walls.

In her words, “I had a couple of shirts, a couple of pairs of sweats, the shoes on my feet,” Griner said. “One of my shirts, I ripped it up and I used one to clean myself. I used one as my toilet paper. With my dirty, dirty hole in the ground with feces all over it. That was the moment where I just felt the dirtiest and, like, less than a human.”

Because of the frigid conditions, she even had to cut her hair and her signature dreadlocks. “It just had to happen,” Griner said. “We had spiders above my bed, making a nest. My dreads started to freeze. They would just stay wet and cold and I was getting sick. You got to do what you got to do to survive.”

Brittney and Her Career After Release

Phoenix Mercury has re-signed Griner and will play at least one more season with them. The announcement was shared by the team on their X handle. Although the amount was not disclosed, it is assumed her salary in 2023 was $165,100. It is also believed that the top league players make around $241,984. 

A little over three months after her release, Griner made her way back to the United States to perform in the 2023 season. During the season, she averaged 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.

Griner and Her Personal Life

Brittney Griner is married to Cherelle, and recently, they announced that they are expecting their first child together. Griner broke the news by posting it on their social media handler, Instagram, along with an ultrasound picture. She even mentioned that their child is expected in July.  

Besides, Griner already has two kids from her first marriage with Glory Johnson, the former WNBA player. During her marriage to Griner, Johnson underwent in-vitro fertilization and became pregnant with twins.

Griner married her partner in 2019, who played a significant role in releasing her from Russian captivity in 2022. She called the White House continuously to bring Griner back home. 

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