Brittney Griner in Russia

Who is Brittney Griner?

Brittney Griner was born on October 18, 1990. She grew up in Houston, Texas, with her three older siblings and parents. Griner went to Nimitz High School in Houston, where she excelled in basketball. Beginning in her sophomore year, Griner joined the boys’ basketball team, where she worked with the basketball coach to strengthen her dunking skills. This practice resulted in a video of Griner’s dunking abilities being posted on YouTube, where it garnered 6.6 million views, resulting in the meeting with Shaquille O’Neal. Griner continued her stellar basketball career by receiving a scholarship to Baylor University, where she had an outstanding college career and broke numerous records, including having the most blocks with 233 in a season in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) history, her college’s first ever triple-double, and the NCAA single-game blocks record with 14. Continuing her very successful career, Griner was drafted to play for the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA draft. Griner has broken many records in her WNBA career, including setting the single-game WNBA record of 11 blocks in 2015, holding the all-time WNBA record of 23 dunks, and winning gold twice for the USA Team at the Summer Olympics, with another two gold medals at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Brittney Griner is very clearly one of the US’ best basketball players.


Why Was Brittney Griner Detained?

On February 17, 2022, Brittney Griner was returning to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg team where she had been playing basketball in her off season since 2014. In the Russian Airport, Sheremetyevo Airport outside of Moscow, officers stated that they found traces of cannabis in Griner’s vape cartridges. It was not until March, 5, 2022 that Russia sent word to the U.S. that Griner was in custody of drug charges, facing the maximum sentence of 10 years. Griner’s trial was continued until August 4, 2022 where Brittney Griner was found guilty on drug charges and sentenced to nine years after she pleaded guilty to having drugs in her possession.  Meanwhile, the Whitehouse was facing pressure from Griner’s family, friends and fans to find a way to release her from the Russian prison. On November 9, 2022, Griner was transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia, Russia to continue out the rest of her sentence. Many were worried that Griner would be mistreated terribly while she was in the penal colony, but after months of negotiations with Russia, the U.S. finally found a way to bring Brittney Griner back home. 

Brittney Griner Released

On December 8th, 2022, and after many negotiations, the United States and Russia finally came to an agreement that Brittney Griner would be swapped with a Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout who was nicknamed “the merchant of death.” There has been much conflict of whether the trade was worthwhile as Bout is a very dangerous assassin, who was charged in 2008 with conspiracy to kill American citizens and officials, providing aid to a terrorist organization, and delivery of anti-aircraft missiles. Nonetheless, Griner, who had experienced much trauma and hardship, has finally returned home to her wife after 10 months. Griner stated in her post, “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.” Although there are some bittersweet emotions surrounding Griner’s release, she is going to continue to advocate for those who are still unfairly locked up and unable to return home, hoping that they too will be able to be reunited with their families.