Here's What We Know About WNBA's Brittney Griner, The Arizona Player Held In Russian Custody

She just pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Florida Associate Editor
Brittney Griner wearing a USA t-shirt. Right: Brittney Griner on the beach with her wife Cherelle Griner.

Brittney Griner wearing a USA t-shirt. Right: Brittney Griner on the beach with her wife Cherelle Griner.

Brittney Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, pleaded guilty to drug charges this morning, adding she had no intent to break the law.

She was arrested in Russia back in February after officials found hashish oil in a vape that was in her luggage, and has been detained in the country since then.

Griner appeared in Russian court today, for the second time, after writing a letter to President Joe Biden on July 4 asking him to help get her back home.

A statement from the White House said that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to her wife Cherelle Griner about her being "wrongfully detained" in the country and stated that "he's working to secure Brittney's release as soon as possible."

Griner's wife took to Instagram to share her thoughts after the call with the White House officials.

"While I will remain concerned and outspoken until she is back home, I am hopeful in knowing that the President read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond. I know BG will be able to find comfort in knowing she has not been forgotten," she wrote.

The Houston-born athlete's team showed support on Twitter back in March, saying that they were "closely monitoring the situation." The WNBPA also released a statement saying their "utmost concern is BG's safety and well-being."

This past winter, Griner rejoined UMMC Ekaterinburg* of the Russian Premier League, the powerhouse club that she has represented during WNBA offseasons since 2014. Prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the oligarch-backed basketball program had frequently contracted star American players, paying them considerably more than the current maximum WNBA salary of $228,095, according to Yahoo Sports.

However, after arriving at an airport near Moscow from New York, Griner didn't make it past Russian security after the marijuana concentrate was found in her bag. The charges could carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars.

According to Reuters, "Russia said on Thursday that it was difficult to exchange prisoners with the United States and suggested Washington be silent about the fate of Brittney Griner, the U.S. basketball star detained in Russia on drugs charges."

Griner was born in Houston, TX and played for Baylor University in Waco, TX before securing a spot on Arizona's professional team. The athlete is a two-time Olympic gold-medalist and is well respected in the sports world.

The next hearing in the Russian court is set for July 14, 2022.

*This article was updated

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