Brittney Griner got choked up while giving her first press conference after being released from Russia in December. While addressing reporters, the WNBA player, 32, answered a reporter who was asking about how she managed to be resilient through all the difficult times. As she began to answer, Brittney held back some tears, before gathering her thoughts. “I’m no stranger to hard times,” she said. “See, you cried and made me cry.”
Brittney Griner held back tears while speaking to reporters ahead of her basketball return with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Griner, who spent 10 months detained in Russia, also sent a message to Americans Paul Whelan & Evan Gershkovich, who are both detained abroad. pic.twitter.com/PSTmfTTnAv
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As Brittney continued, she said that “looking forward to what’s to come” was a big part of what helped her get through the hardest parts of her imprisonment. “Digging deep, honestly. You’re going to be faced with adversities throughout your life. This was a pretty big one, but I just kinda relied on my hard work getting through it,” she said, before saying that being active helped her be resilient. “Dine and practice, and just hard workouts. You find a way to just grind it out. Just put your head down, and just keep going. Keep moving forward. You can never stand still.”
Later in the press conference, Brittney also revealed that she has no intentions to go play basketball abroad again, with the one exception being if she’s playing for Team USA in the Olympics. Additionally, she expressed how important it was to address the pay gap between NBA players and WNBA players.
When asked about other Americans who are still imprisoned in Russia, Brittney also shared some words of encouragement that she believes will help other people who are being wrongfully detained all over the world. “Stay strong, keep fighting. Don’t give up. Just keep waking up. Find a little routine, and stick to that routine as best you can,” she said.
Brittney was released from prison in Russia as part of a prisoner exchange in December 2022. She had been arrested and later found guilty of drug possession charges, while playing basketball in the country. She had been sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony, but she had only been detained for 10 months when she was released back to the United States. In February, it was announced that Brittney would rejoin the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA. Her first season game will be on May 19.