It’s been a long and tough road for WNBA athlete Brittney Griner after she was detained overseas for traveling with cannabis oil earlier this year. In August, she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. Today (Oct. 18), she is celebrating her 32nd birthday behind bars.
Although friends and family of the Phoenix Mercury star can not physically be with Griner, they are finding other ways to uplift her. Those close to the basketball player used her birthday to launch WeAreBg.org, where supporters can “send a note to Brittney.” In a video clip on the website, her wife Cherelle shared, “I’ve felt every moment of the grueling seven months without her.” She added, “I want to thank President Biden for the administration’s efforts to secure her release.”
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 18, 2022
Supporters are using the hashtag “WeAreBG” to send positive messages and shine a light on the athlete during her difficult time. “Happy Birthday Brittney Griner, we will not forget about you and we will not stop fighting for you. The W won’t be the same until you’re home,” the WNBA said on Twitter. American former tennis player Billie Jean King tweeted, “Today, Brittney Griner turns 32. She will spend her birthday in a Russian prison, where she has been unlawfully detained for [eight] months. Let’s continue to advocate for her release and bring her home.”
Tributes for Griner are flooding social media. Many fellow athletes and sports organizations are sharing sweet words and photos of happier times. One fan said, “Happy birthday to Brittney Griner. We’re praying for your safety while you’re away and also a renewed sense of urgency to bring you home. 243 days is too long, and it’s time for her to return.”
Earlier this month, Cherelle spoke with “CBS Morning News” about the Olympian’s prison sentence. She said she hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would acknowledge that the athlete frequented Russia for around eight years and put a positive spotlight on the country by playing basketball for UMMC Ekaterinburg and also paying taxes. Yesterday (Oct. 17), a source told Insider that releasing Griner is not a “main issue” for Putin.
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Today, Brittney Griner turns 32.
She will spend her birthday in a Russian prison, where she has been unlawfully detained for 8 months.
Let’s continue to advocate for her release and bring her home.#WeAreBG
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) October 18, 2022
Today marks eight months of her Wrongful Detention. She needs her family now more than ever.
BG – we have not forgotten you, and we will not rest until you’re home. pic.twitter.com/gVJAXByU34
— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) October 17, 2022
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 18, 2022
Today is Brittney Griner’s birthday. Today is also the 243rd day since she was wrongfully detained in Russia.
BG, we miss you, we love you and we are with you.
— WSLAM (@wslam) October 18, 2022
#FreeBrittneyGriner 243 days (and the birthday) of my sister and friend @brittneygriner has been wrongfully detained in a Russian prison. Praying to you Lord to give BG the light she needs to get thru the days. HAPPY 32nd BG! Love you! #WeAreBG pic.twitter.com/lziW8Q9q74
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) October 18, 2022
Happy birthday to Brittney Griner. We’re praying for your safety while you’re away, and also a renewed sense of urgency to bring you home. 243 days is too long, and it’s time for her to return. 🙏🏾
— Jasmine (@harperxxwrites) October 18, 2022
Eight months ago, Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia. She deserves to be home with her family, her friends and her community. It's time to bring Brittney home. #WeAreBG
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 17, 2022