Brittney Griner expresses gratitude in first statement after release from Russian prison

Brittney Griner flies to Abu Dhabi on Dec. 9 after her release from a Russian prison.(Associated Press)
Brittney Griner flies to Abu Dhabi on Dec. 9 after her release from a Russian prison.
(Associated Press)

One week after she arrived back in the U.S. following 10 months of imprisonment in Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner expressed gratitude to all those who helped secure her release and provided their love and support during her ordeal.

“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,” Griner said in a statement released Friday morning. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”

Griner was arrested in Moscow on Feb. 17, when Russian authorities say they found vape cartridges with 0.7 of a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in prison. Last week, her release was secured by the U.S. as part of a high-profile prisoner swap for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The U.S. was not able to secure the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been jailed in Russia for nearly four years.


Brittney Griner’s release from Russia in a high-profile prisoner exchange should be celebrated, not disparaged by reactions reeking of bias and bigotry.

Dec. 8, 2022

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” Griner wrote. “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.”

Also in her statement, Griner addressed questions about her future.

“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,” she said.