Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a high-profile prisoner exchange, which included notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner was imprisoned for about 10 months on drug charges.
Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Baylor University All-American and Phoenix Mercury pro basketball star, whose arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad.
Her status as an openly gay Black woman, locked up in a country where government have been hostile to the LBGTQ community, injected several dynamics into her legal case.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
Griner was subsequently transferred to a penal colony after the recent resolution of her criminal case on drug charges. Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Baylor University All-American and Phoenix Mercury pro basketball star.
She was a dominant force in leading Baylor to the 2012 NCAA championship, then went onto stardom with the Phoenix Mercury as one of the top defenders in the league.
She became the first true center to lead the WNBA in scoring in 2017 and did it again in 2019, averaging more than 20 points each season.
In the same manner, she won the WNBA defensive player of the year in consecutive seasons (2014-15) and earned her a spot on the WNBA’s all-defensive team six times.