After 294 days detained in Russia, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has been freed and has returned safely to America. To quickly recap the situation, Griner was using the WNBA offseason to play overseas in Russia, like she had since 2014. This time, upon entering the country, she was detained after marijuana oil cartridges were found in her possession.
It took some time for the story to make national headlines in the United States. By the time it did, Griner was labeled as wrongfully detained, and discussions of how her release could be secured began to dominate the headlines. Over the next 294 days, Griner’s wife, WNBA stars and countless others all worked diligently in an effort to pressure the U.S. to negotiate her release.
After being sentenced to nine years in prison, Griner was destined to spend a majority of her time at one of the toughest labor camps in Russia. While she was there, Griner cut her dreadlocks, a move that many have noted. According to ESPN, Griner cut off her signature dreadlocks because they would freeze after getting wet during the Russian winters:
“So … the hair. Griner’s lawyer tells me BG cut her hair famous two Sundays ago. Every time she washed it it would freeze, and she decided she didn’t want to deal with it for an entire Russian winter. And she was prepared to be there for a while.”
Below you can view footage of the prisoner exchange that raised the questions about Griner’s dreadlocks.
Brittney Griner’s future after returning to America
As Brittney Griner returns to America, she will be faced with a choice. On one hand, she can return to being a WNBA star like she was before, using the platform to continue to put a spotlight on the horrible situation she endured. On the other hand, many have pointed out that she may be content to spend time with her wife rather than jump back into the swing of a competitive WNBA season.
According to one of Griner’s lawyers, she also came down with the flu while in prison, one of the many difficult things she endured. After the prisoner swap, Griner was reportedly in good health and in good spirits, according to U.S. officials.
After the news of Griner’s release, her wife, Cherelle, spoke at a televised conference about her plans for the future:
“Today, my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there are so many other families who are not whole. BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today as we celebrate BG being home.”
Below you can view the first video of Brittney Griner released by Russian State Media after the prisoner swap was made official and she was transferred from prison.
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