Brittney Griner the freed US basketball star?

Brittney Griner, an American basketball player, was released by Moscow officials as part of a long-rumoured prisoner swap.

Griner is arguably one of the most outstanding female basketball players and is the star player for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), in the USA.

The 32-year old disappeared as she was traveling through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Later, she was charged with transporting cannabis oil in her bag and sentenced for nine years.

Raymond Griner and Sandra Griner were the parents of the future WNBA star. Her father, a Vietnam War veteran, served two tours as a US Marine and later became a Houston police officer.

She was raised in strict homes and later revealed in her autobiography how her father made “so many damned rules” to keep her safe and on the right track.

The 6ft 9in (6.05m) tall star has recalled being bullied as a child for her height and tomboyish looks.

In her autobiography, she wrote that she was “wishing away so much of what would ultimately make me successful at basketball, my size, strength and tenacity”.

Despite her desire to be normal, her talent on the court of basketball was immediately noticed by the coaches at Nimitz High School Houston.

Her ability to dunk basketballs at the Nimitz Cougars school team attracted a lot of attention.

A video compilation of her dunks from her junior season racked up 6.6 millions views on YouTube. This led to Shaquille O’Neal, the LA Lakers legend.

After leading the Nimitz Cougars in a state championship match in her senior year, during which she dunked it a record 52 times in 32 matches, she was named to the illustrious Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American team. She scored 20 points in the showpiece game.

Griner was 22 when she came out to her family as gay. This was the beginning of a promising career that would see Griner become one of the most prominent LGBT athletes around the globe.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated she stated that it was not difficult for her to make the decision.

She said, “I’ve always been open about my sexuality and who I am.” “It’s possible for younger generations to feel the same if I can be out and show they’re fine.

Griner was the first openly homosexual player to be sponsored by Nike in a multimillion-dollar deal.

Tamryn Spruill is a journalist covering sports and has written a book about the WNBA, Griner’s contributions, and told the BBC earlier in the year that it was a groundbreaking decision for the sport.

“Before Griner there was this shadow over league, where it was like ‘don’t say gay,’” Ms Spruill stated. “She was like,’screw it, this is who i am.’

Griner’s teammate Diana Taurasi said that BG “has always been one of the pioneers.”

After a highly publicized divorce from Glory Johnson, her ex-wife and fellow WNBA player, she married Cherelle Watson in 2019.

After a successful college career at Baylor University, Griner was drafted by the Arizona-based Phoenix Mercury as the number one pick for the 2013 WNBA draft.

She went on to be a star in the WNBA, and was widely regarded as the best offensive player in the league. Her slam dunk ability is unmatched.

She has won a WNBA title, eight WNBA All-Star awards and four EuroLeague titles.

Melissa Isaacson, a Northwestern University professor and sportswriter, stated that “She’s every bit Tom Brady of her field.” She also added: “You could argue very clearly that she is one the most outstanding athletes in the world.”

Griner, despite all of this, had a second job and flew to Russia to play for EuroLeague team UMMC Ekaterinburg. She has been playing for the team since 2014, when the WNBA off-season began.

About half of WNBA players play overseas in the off-season. It’s a way for most to increase their income. WNBA players earn five times as much in Russia than in the US.

Ms. Spruill stated that if she was Steph Curry or LeBron, she wouldn’t be there at all as she would be making enough money.

Griner’s male counterparts make over 200 times the maximum WNBA salary.

After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the EuroLeague suspended all Russian team members. Officials from the US and WNBA began calling players out of Ukraine.

Griner was not able to make it, as he is believed to have entered Russia on 17 February. However, the timing of his entry remains a mystery.

Initial statements by US authorities and Griner’s representatives were mostly silent. They only said that they were trying to bring Griner home.

However, in May the State Department declared Griner “wrongfully” held and began a long campaign to get her released.

Cherelle Griner, Griner’s spouse, posted an Instagram post in April about the long and painful wait.

People say “stay busy.” There isn’t a single task that can keep us from worrying about you. She wrote, “My heart, and our hearts are all going by every day that passes.”

“There are no words that can express my pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting”.

After Griner’s release on Thursday, Griner’s wife, Joanne, embraced Joe Biden in Oval Office.

She said, “I’m just standing there overwhelmed with emotions.”


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