PHOENIX MERCURY

Mercury, sports world react to Brittney Griner’s release

Dec 8, 2022, 10:07 AM | Updated: 11:08 am
Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks after President Joe Biden announced Brit...

Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks after President Joe Biden announced Brittney Griner's release in a prisoner swap with Russia, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Also attending are Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Vice President Kamala Harris. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Brittney Griner is on her way back to the United States after a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia freed her on the 294th day in prison.

In prison for carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage back in February, Griner’s detainment had been labeled wrongful by the United States. The country swapped Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on Thursday.

“Miraculously, mercifully, the count of days detained has ended at 294, and our friend, our sister is headed back home where she belongs,” the Mercury said in a statement. “The emotions for our organization, just like for our fans and so many across the world, are those of joyous celebration, deep gratitude, grief for the time lost, and sincere hope for all families still awaiting the return of a loved one.

“BG’s strength in this process, her unwavering belief that resolution would come, and the hope she displayed every day is what kept all of us believing this day would come. We are eternally grateful for the combined work of President Biden and Vice President Harris and the Administration, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, to Cherelle Griner, Ray and Sandra Griner, Brittney’s agent Lindsay Colas, Brittney’s Russian counsel, the WNBA and Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, the WNBA Players Association, and everyone – from players to fans to media – who kept Brittney’s story top-of-mind. The fight to bring her home has illustrated the power of the WNBA, its players, platform, and mission. We no longer have to Bring BG Home – she’s on her way.”

Speaking alongside U.S. President Joe Biden, Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner thanked the parties who helped push for Brittney’s release and added support for other Americans detained abroad, including Paul Whelan.

Whelan is a Michigan corporate security executive who has been jailed in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government has said are baseless.

Griner’s Mercury teammates, including Brianna Turner, responded to the news of the release with several messages on Twitter.

WNBA stars and voices across women basketball expressed their excitement for Griner’s release.

The commissioners from the WNBA and NBA, Engelbert and Silver, respectively released statements. So did Baylor University, where Griner played in college.

Other sports icons from the NBA and beyond also messaged their support for Griner after the news dropped Thursday.

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