Brittney Griner, 32, returned to the United States early Friday after being released in exchange for an international arms dealer.
Brittney Yevette Griner (born October 18, 1990) is an American professional basketball player for Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She played college basketball for the Baylor Lady Bears in Waco, Texas.
She is the only NCAA basketball player to score 2,000 points and save 500 shots. In 2012, the three-time All-American was named AP Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Griner is one of 11 women to have an Olympic gold medal, NCAA championship, FIBA World Cup gold medal, and WNBA championship.
She was selected to the Phoenix Mercury All-American Basketball Team in 2009. In 2012 she received the ESPY Award for best female athlete. In 2013, Griner signed an endorsement deal with Nike.
Griner was on the 2016 USA women’s Olympic team and led them to victory at the Rio Olympics. Griner was named to the United States women’s national team for the 2020 Summer Olympics (2021 in Tokyo, Japan), where she won her second gold medal. She is also a two-time FIBA Women’s World Cup winner with Team USA (2014 and 2018).
Griner was arrested in February, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. During her trial in Russia, she said the cannabis oil found in her bag was an “honest mistake“. Her trial began on July 1 and she pleaded guilty to the charges. On August 4, she was sentenced to nine years in prison.
She came to Russia to play in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason.
The Biden administration proposed a prisoner swap in July as Moscow has long sought the release of Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer known as the Merchant of Death. He has been held in a US prison for 12 years.
WNBA star Brittney Griner has landed on US soil after 10 months in Russian custody.
Griner landed at Kelly Airfield in San Antonio at 4:29 am local time. She was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center where she is being evaluated and reunited with her wife Cherelle Griner.
During an afternoon press conference, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Brittney Griner was in very good spirits and appeared to be in good health.
But Biden has been criticized for failing to win freedom another former US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia for almost four years.
At a news conference Thursday, Biden said he spoke to Griner on the phone and that she was safe and relieved but deserved privacy and rest. Authorities said she will receive specialized medical services and advice.