Friday (Dec. 8) marked the one-year anniversary of Brittney Griner’s release from prison in a high-stakes inmate swap between the US and Russia. The Olympic athlete spent 10 months imprisoned overseas after being arrested and convicted for the possession of THC vape cartridges that were found in her luggage at a Moscow-area airport in February 2022.
The Phoenix Mercury center had been in the country playing for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team during the WNBA’s offseason, a common practice for many of her colleagues. In a newly announced deal with ESPN and Disney Entertainment Television, she will tell her story in a documentary and scripted series. She has also agreed to give her first sit-down interview to ABC News’ Robin Roberts, though a date has not yet been announced.
“The last two years have been the most harrowing, transformative and illuminating period of my life, and I am grateful to be in a place now to share my story with the world,” said the Baylor University alumna. The gravity of the life-changing event has not been lost on her, as she and her wife, Cherelle Griner, recently reflected on their holiday miracle on Instagram.
“Our family was one of the 58 families made whole,” said Brittney and Cherelle in a joint post that acknowledged the tireless efforts of those who advocated on her behalf and helped broker a deal for her freedom and safe return home. The prisoner exchange also resulted in the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“This past year has been a whirlwind, and we are grateful for all of your support,” the couple continued. “Even as we celebrate this season and as our family celebrates today, we must not forget that our work is not done. There are Americans still wrongly detained in countries around the world, including Paul and Evan in Russia and several Americans held in Venezuela.”
Paul Whelan has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018. He and US officials have argued that the espionage-related charges brought against him are false. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been a detainee since March. Negotiations as recent as Dec. 5 failed to reach a deal to bring either of them back home, according AP news.
The post concluded with a plea for fans to reach out to their local representatives to vocalize support for the men’s release. The State Department has also backed support for Eyvin Hernandez, Jerrel Kenemore and Joseph Cristella, who are each detained in Venezuela.
Brittney made her return to the court for the first time since landing on US soil in May. She has since sworn off playing oversees unless it is for the Olympics.