Brittney Griner he said he is “grateful” to be back in the United States and plans to play basketball again next season for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. His comments occurred a week after she was released from a Russian prison, in a dramatic high-profile prisoner exchange.
“It feels so good to be home!” Griner posted on Instagram Friday in his first public statement since his release. “The last 10 months have been a battle in every way. I searched deeply to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that kept me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for your help.”
Griner was arrested in February in Russia on drug-related charges and was later found guilty and sentenced to nine years in a Russian jail. After months of tense negotiations and an extraordinarily rare public disclosure by the Biden administration that she had made a “substantial proposal” to bring Griner and another detained American home, Paul Whelanthe case was settled last week with a prisoner swap in which the WNBA star was traded in the United Arab Emirates for the Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.
“President Biden, you brought me home, and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home, too,” Griner said. “I will use my platform to do everything I can to help you. I also encourage everyone who played a role in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be complete.”
Griner thanked the military personnel and medical team in Texas, where he received care after returning to the United States last week. She wrote that she would “transition home to enjoy the holidays with my family,” but she did not say where.
Although the commissioner of the WNBA, cathy engelbertsaying that he would give Griner all the time he needed to decide if he wanted to play basketball again, Griner made it clear: “I intend to play basketball for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA this season.and in so doing, I hope to be able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who supported me, wrote and posted for me in person soon.”
“It’s an amazing time for her to be home before the holidays,” Engelbert told the news agency. PA in an interview on Thursday. “It’s a great story for everyone who knows it.”
The Mercury open the season on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19. The team’s first home game is two days later against the Chicago Sky.
(With information from AP)