Brittney Griner Shares First Message After Release From Russian Penal Colony

WNBA star Brittney Griner released a statement following her release from a Russian penal colony. Griner returned to the United States on Dec. 9.

The 32-year-old shared a message on Instagram on Dec. 16 thanking everyone for their support. The post also included a picture of her embracing her wife, Cherelle Griner, upon her return. 

“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.”

Griner went on to thank her wife, family, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Casey WassermanVince Kozar, the WNBA and her team, Phoenix Mercury. She also thanked her Russian legal team Maria Blagovolina and Alex Boykov as well as the activists and grassroots organizations who helped with her release.

The grateful athlete also thanked Bill Richardson and Mickey Bergman, the Bring Our Families Home Campaign, Roger Carstens and the SPEHA team. Griner also thanked President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris while advocating for the release of Paul Whelan.

“And of course, a special thank you to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken and the entire Biden-Harris Administration,” said Griner.

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too. I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. 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 was released in a trade between the United States and Russia on Dec. 8. The athlete was exchanged for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner was first detained in Moscow after a vape cartridge was found in her luggage back in February. The WNBA star also noted her gratitude to the PISA staff and medical team at the San Antonio Fort Sam Houston Base and revealed that she plans to get back on the court to play basketball for Phoenix Mercury this season.

“I also want to make one thing very clear: 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. Love always, BG #42.”

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