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Brittney Griner is speaking out for the first time since her return home from a Russian prison.



After nearly a year of loved ones, fans, and politicians advocating on Griner’s behalf, the embattled athlete broke her silence. Griner opened up about the 10-month ordeal in an emotional Instagram post on Friday.

“It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help,” Griner wrote on pictures of her stepping off a plane onto American soil and embracing her wife.
The 32-year-old thanked everyone who fought for her freedom, especially her wife, Cherelle Griner, President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris. The Biden-Harris administration negotiated a prisoner swap of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner’s freedom.
“I am grateful to each person who advocated for me, especially my wife, Cherelle Griner, my family, Lindsay Kagawa Colas and Casey Wasserman and my whole team at Wasserman, Vince Kozar and the Phoenix Mercury, the players of the WNBA, and my entire WNBA family,” she wrote.

Griner and her wife dedicate themselves to freeing other detained Americans

Griner also addressed the criticism about her release for illegal possession of a cannabis vape pen before Paul Whelan, the former U.S. Marine still in Russian custody. She vowed to help bring home Whelan, who served four of his 16-year sentence for espionage. Despite Griner carrying less than a gram of the medically prescribed oil, Russian officials sentenced her to 9 years in prison.
“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too. I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole.”

Brittney Griner looks ahead to her future on the basketball court

Since Griner is finally safe at home with her loved ones, she’s looking forward to the future. The eight-time all-star assured fans that she didn’t just return home to the U.S. She already has plans for her return to the basketball court.
“I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon.”
Griner’s ordeal not only highlighted double standards about the oppressive drug laws and inhumane prison conditions here in the United States. It also shined a spotlight on the gender pay gap and lack of resources for female athletes like Griner, even at the top of their game. Although she is one of the WNBA’s biggest and most accomplished stars, Griner doesn’t get paid to play like her iconic male counterparts. She was only in Russia because she’s played for their UMMC Ekaterinburg team in the off-season since 2014.
Hopefully, when Griner celebrates a decade with the Phoenix Mercury next year, it will usher in a new era of equity for women in sports.


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