Brittney Griner’s release advocated for at ESPY’s with ‘We are BG’
The 2022 ESPY Awards took place on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The yearly sports award show was attended by some of the greatest athletes in the world.
But one player was missing among the rest of the WNBA stars: Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner.
That’s when Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and Golden State Warriors/ESPYs host Stephen Curry — who was wearing a Mercury Griner jersey — delivered a message, “We are BG.”
Nneka Ogwumike, Stephen Curry and Skylar Diggins-Smith share a powerful message about Brittney Griner.
"We cannot stop fighting for her. We cannot stop believing for her. And we will not stop hoping for the day when we can welcome her home safely." pic.twitter.com/gsxFD0iUT8
— ESPN (@espn) July 21, 2022
“It’s been 153 nights now that BG has been wrongfully detained thousands of miles away from home, away from her family, away from her friends, away from her team,” Diggins-Smith said in her speech.
“All throughout that time, we’ve kept her in our thoughts and in our hearts even though we know that ain’t nearly enough to bring her home y’all.”
Griner was detained in Russia back in February after airport authorities found vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis — a penalty of up to 10 years in the country.
The Mercury center and Olympic gold medalist is currently undergoing trial after pleading guilty.
Recently, she has received character witness testimony in support of her at trial.
Griner’s lawyer also said that she had a letter from a U.S. doctor that recommended she use medical cannabis in order to treat pain.
Soccer player Megan Rapinoe admonished her fellow athletes for not doing enough to speak out and encouraged them to support detained WNBA star Brittney Griner at The ESPYS on Wednesday night.
“For me, the most striking thing is that BG’s not here. BG deserves to be free, she’s being held as a political prisoner, obviously,” Rapinoe said while accepting a trophy for best play at the show honoring the past year’s top athletes and moments in sports.
“Like what are we doing here dressed up like we are when our sister is detained abroad? We haven’t done enough, none of us. We can do more, we can support her more, and just let her know that we love her so much.”
“First, bring BG home. Gotta do that,” tennis great Billie Jean King said.
Rapinoe urged her fellow competitors to keep Griner’s face and name on social media.
“Every time we say it in interviews, it puts pressure on everybody,” she said. “It puts pressure on the administration, it puts pressure on Russia, it puts pressure on Putin, it puts pressure on everyone, and it lets BG know also above everything that we love her and that we miss her and that we’re thinking about her all the time.”
Wearing her Phoenix Mercury jersey under his tracksuit, Curry noted the effort being made to free Griner.
“But as we hope for the best, we urge the entire global sports community to continue to stay energized on her behalf,” he said. “She’s one of us, the team of athletes in this room tonight and all over the world. A team that has nothing to do with politics or global conflict.”
They were applauded by Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, who was in the audience at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Notable figures to speak out for the release of Griner prior to Wednesday include President Joe Biden and United States Women’s World Cup champion and Rapinoe, who did so when receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on July 7.
The WNBA All-Star Game on July 10 also saw every player wear Griner’s No. 42 on their jerseys during the second half of the exhibition.
And on Wednesday morning, a mural in Washington D.C. was revealed to honor Americans who have been detained abroad, which featured Griner.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.