Brittney Griner releases message on 32nd birthday, marking 8-month stay in Russian detention

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Monday marked eight months since WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia. Tuesday marked her 32nd birthday.

Griner’s representatives shared a message on Tuesday thanking everyone for the support they have given over the past several months.

“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me,” Griner said in her message, according to the statement.

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U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, sits inside a defendants' cage during the reading of the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, Aug. 4, 2022.

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, sits inside a defendants’ cage during the reading of the court’s verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, Aug. 4, 2022.
(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool)

Griner was in Russia in February to compete during the WNBA offseason, and Russian authorities said she had vape canisters with cannabis oil inside her luggage while traveling through an airport in Moscow.

The Biden administration reportedly talked about a potential prisoner swap to free her and another American held in a Russian jail.

Last week, Griner’s attorney said she is growing increasingly nervous about the prospects of being released.

“She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home,” Alexander Boykov said in an interview with the New York Times. “She is very worried about what the price of that will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia.”

Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner helped create the #WeAreBG campaign in hopes of keeping pressure on the United States government and other officials to continue to work to bring Brittney home.

Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks during a news conference in Chicago July 8, 2022.

Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks during a news conference in Chicago July 8, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

The #WeAreBG campaign released a video on Brittney’s birthday in which Cherelle said, in part, “I’ve felt every moment of the grueling seven months without her.”

She also thanked everyone who has helped and supported Brittney.

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The WNBA released a tweet in support of Griner saying, in part, “We will not forget about you and we will not stop fighting for you.”

Legendary former tennis player Billie Jean King took to social media and wrote, “Let’s continue to advocate for [Brittney’s] release and bring her home.” 

One of Griner’s fellow WNBA stars, Seattle Storm player Breanna Stewart, expressed admiration for Griner.

Stewart is playing overseas in Turkey. Her and other WNBA players previously announced that Griner’s arrest deterred them from playing in Russia this offseason. Another player, Courtney Vandersloot, elected to compete in Hungary.

“Honestly, my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody’s going to go there until she’s home,” Stewart said when she previously spoke about Griner’s situation. “I think that, you know, now people want to go overseas, and if the money is not much different, they want to be in a better place.”

To entice players to stay home, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said top players could make up to $700,000 this year between base salary, marketing agreements and award bonuses.

Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., wrote, “Brittney, I am grateful for your life. I pray that you do not lose heart, as we are advocating for your release and return home.”

Dawn Staley, six-time WNBA All-Star and head coach of the reigning women’s basketball national champion South Carolina Gamecocks, showed support for Griner and wished her a happy birthday.

In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison. Her appeal, which the U.S. has called “another sham judicial proceeding,” has been scheduled for Oct. 25.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Aug. 4, 2022. 

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Aug. 4, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

U.S. authorities have said they are continuing to work to arrange for Griner’s release and have previously designated her as “wrongfully detained.”

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Griner is an eight-time All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

The #WeAreBG campaign encouraged everyone to write notes of support for Griner for her birthday.

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