Griner is home


Photo used with permission by Wikimedia Commons/Lori Shaull

Pictured above is WNBA superstar; Brittney Griner. She plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA.

Kinley Freese, Staff Writer


After 10 long months detained in Russia, Brittney Griner the WNBA superstar is back in the U.S. On Apr 27, 2023 Griner made her first televised public press conference since being released back to the U.S. Griner was detained in Russian detention for a long and dreary 10 months after being caught with illegal drugs in a Russian airport. In Feb. 2022, she was prescribed medical cannabis which is legal in the state of Arizona where it was prescribed, but when she left to go play professional basketball overseas she was caught and accused of “smuggling drugs.” Cannabis is illegal in Russia, therefore she was arrested by Russian officials. 

Griner chooses to play professional women’s basketball overseas in her WNBA offseason. The pay overseas is better than in the WNBA, therefore it is very common for female professional athletes. In the 2022 WNBA offseason, 73 players went overseas to play for higher pay in their so-called “offseason.” 

“I’ll say this, the whole reason a lot of us go overseas is the pay gap. A lot go over there to make an income to support our families and ourselves,” said Griner in an interview reflecting on her time detained in Russia. 

Griner is a household name in women’s sports. She has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S. team. She is also a six-time WNBA all-star and a defensive specialist. She has led the WNBA in blocked shots seven times and has led the league in scoring twice as well. In 2012, she was an NCAA champion, the final four most outstanding player and AP Player of the Year. On top of her success on the basketball court, Griner has been a vocal advocate for social justice reforms and countless social work initiatives. Griner was named one of the top 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2023. 

Griner was held in a Russian penitentiary for 10 months for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at the Moscow Airport in Feb, 2022. She was on her way to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, an overseas professional basketball team located in Yekaterinburg, Russia. She was put on trial in Russian courts and sentenced wrongfully to nine years in prison. In December of 2022, the U.S. and Russia made a high-profile prisoner swap to get Griner home.