December 8, 2022 

Brittney Griner is finally free: The women’s basketball community reacts

'No more counting days. She’s coming home'

After a 10-month-long wait, Brittney Griner is returning to the United States in a top-level prisoner exchange with Russia, President Joe Biden announced Thursday morning. Griner was sentenced to ten years in prison for possession of hashish oil and cannabis-derived cartridges.

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“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time,” Biden said in a press conference alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner’s wife Cherelle. “We never stopped pushing for her release and took painstaking and intense negotiations. And I want to thank all of the hard-working public servants across my administration, who worked tirelessly to secure a release.”

Since her detention, Griner received an outpouring of support and advocacy for her release from the women’s basketball community that has worked tirelessly to amplify her situation and not let her be forgotten. Needless to say, the reaction to Griner’s release and homecoming has been nothing short of stupendous.

“This is truly a huge moment because what he represents simply by existing as a black queer woman, which is often criticized, which is often ignored, this shows to the world that she’s worth fighting for,” LA Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike said on ESPN’s Get Up. “And it reminds us that you know the real work the true work will never go in vain and that the power of sports collectively, particularly as women cannot be ignored.”

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WNBA players have taken to Twitter to rejoice. Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart, who relentlessly spoke about Griner’s wrongful detention on social media, tweeted, “BG is FREE!!! 294 days and she is coming home!!!”

In a series of tweets, 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones wrote, “BG Freeeeeeee Praise the Lord thank you Jesus!!!” followed by, “How bout Christmas miracles! God Is good! I’m so happy right now! BG free!!!!” and, “When I tell you nothing could kill my vibe today!”

Griner’s WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, tweeted on its official page, “No more counting days. She’s coming home.”

More reactions from around the women’s basketball world and from her Mercury teammates flowed in:

In a statement, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that Griner has shown extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.

“There has not been a day over the past ten months where we all haven’t had Brittney Griner on our minds and in our hearts and that has now turned into a collective wave of joy and relief knowing that she will soon be reunited with her family, the WNBA player community, and her friends,” Engelbert said. “The WNBA is grateful beyond measure to the Biden Administration, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and all those who played a role in bringing BG home today. Our hope is that Paul Whelan and every wrongfully detained American will be returned home safely and as soon as possible.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver added in a statement, “Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends  We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

The WNBPA also added a statement on Thursday morning, expressing its gratitude to the Biden administration for its continued efforts.

“We express our deepest appreciation for anyone and everyone who supported our campaign,” the WNBPA said. “Whether you signed the petition, posted on social media, wrote a letter, wore a shirt, told your friends to advocate, or called our community to action – what you did made a difference. Your actions kept BG’s name top of mind and her humanity in focus. BG is a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, and a teammate, and you showed up for her. “

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Written by Vishakya Deshpande

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