BG Free at Last


Brittney Griner reunites with wife Cherelle Griner. (Photo Credit: Miguel A. Negron/Associated Press)

Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Brittney Griner was infamously detained in Russia on February 17, 2022, for carrying hashish cartridges while trying to return home to the United States. 295 days later, Griner was released from prison and able to return home.

Her release was thanks to President Joe Biden’s approval of a U.S.-Russia prisoner-swap agreement. In exchange for Griner’s return, the U.S. sent international arms dealer Viktor Bout, a prisoner in the U.S., back to Russia.

Ever since Griner returned home on December 8, she has been spending time alone and with friends and family. On December 21, 2022, a couple of weeks after her return, Griner spoke out for the first time with a message on Instagram. She thanked everyone for their efforts in securing her return home, saying, “[the letters] show me you cared and I want to personally take the time to write to you and say that your effort mattered. Your efforts helped me to not lose hope during a time where I was full of regret and vulnerable in ways I could have never imagined.”

Griner also pointed out the importance of working together, writing “[the support showed her] the power of collective hands. Together, we can do hard things. I’m living proof of that.”

Since her release, Griner has also been a strong advocate and voice for Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine serving a 16-year sentence in Russia. Whelan has been detained in Russia for around four years, and Griner has been fighting for his release and encouraging people to write letters to Whelan.

Griner’s experience is one that no one should have to go through. Everyone must continue supporting and advocating for those in positions similar to hers because messages of support to prisoners can go a long way. As Griner says, “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Because of you, I never lost hope.”