First words from Brittney Griner: Thanks Biden, vows to help free others

Published on December 16, 2022

After nine months in Russian prison, Griner said she’ll return to the WNBA and help fight for the release of other cannabis prisoners, including US Marine Paul Whelan, who is still detained in Russia.

Brittney Griner said “it feels so good to be home” in her first Instagram post since returning from Russia. Russian authorities held her for months for possessing less than one gram of cannabis.

Griner was in Russian custody since February. In August, a Russian court found her guilty of drug possession and smuggling after authorities found a cannabis vape pen cartridge in her luggage. Griner received a nine-and-a-half year sentence, but Russia agreed ti release her earlier this month in a prisoner swap.

The Phoenix Mercury star wrote yesterday (Dec. 15) that her 10-month ordeal in Russia was an emotional “battle at every turn.” Griner said she still plans to play in the upcoming WNBA season that starts next May.

She also plans to use her platform to bring Paul Whelan and other Americans home from Russia. Griner added that “President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken and the entire Biden-Harris Administration” deserve a “special thank you” for bringing her home.

“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.”

Brittney Griner

Griner wants to see all families made whole

Griner embraces wife Cherelle Griner after landing in the US following 10-months in custody in Russia. (Instagram)

Griner wrote on Instagram, “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.” Griner specifically mentioned Paul Whelan, an American businessman and former Marine still held in a Russian prison.

At 32, Griner remains one of basketball’s biggest stars. She led the 2016 US Olympic team to a gold medal and won a WNBA championship in 2014. She’s played in Russia since 2014 to supplement her WNBA salary. Griner said she plans to play for Phoenix this year as a thank you to her supporters and advocates.

“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.”

Brittney Griner

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Calvin Stovall
Calvin Stovall
Calvin Stovall is Leafly's East Coast Editor.
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