Brittney Griner Tears Up Remembering Russian Prison Struggles And Suicidal Thoughts

by Grace Somes
Brittney Griner || Image credit: @brittneyyevettegriner

Brittney Griner opens up about the Russian detainment ordeal and how she dealt with suicidal moments while being locked away in a foreign jail.

In the interview with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, the two-time Olympic gold medalist spoke about her terrifying arrest and incarceration—describing herself as “less than human” and having suicidal thoughts. 

On February 17, 2022, Griner was detained at a Russian airport as she arrived in Russia to play for Ekaterinburg. 

During the WNBA off-season, Griner had spent years playing on a Russian women’s basketball team. The professional player was arrested in a Moscow airport while en route to return to UMMC Ekaterinburg. 

Authorities said that she had brought into Russia vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, a substance that is prohibited. 

In a segment of the interview on ABC News on Tuesday, Griner claimed that when airport employees asked her to reach inside her bag, she “felt the cartridge.”

Griner remembers her first thoughts: “My life is over right here.” 

A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking a fierce retaliation from the US. Many believed that Griner’s arrest was carried out for political reasons.

In the end, Brittney Griner received a nine-year prison term for smuggling drugs.

As she stayed behind bars, calls for her release increased as more people became aware of her case. However, others were concerned that Griner’s value as a diplomatic hostage would increase due to the media’s attention.

Speaking to ABC News, Griner revealed all she had during her months of detention in Russia was hope —hope for a miracle and wish to return home

The nine-time WNBA All-Star also talked about surviving on pictures of her family taken half a world away.

“Just being able to see their faces, that did it for me. “The moment where you kind of want to give up, you look at the photos and it kind of brings you back to what you’re waiting on. You’re waiting to be back with your families, with your loved ones in a safe place.”

After a protracted legal battle that resulted in high-level discussions between Washington and Moscow to secure her release, the 33-year-old athlete was freed in December as part of a one-for-one prisoner swap for infamous international arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Although Griner pleaded guilty to the charges, she also disputes that she has ever brought cannabis into Russia.

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