Cherelle Griner has broken her silence on her wife, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, being detained in Russia on drug charges for more than three months. Cherelle called on President Joe Biden to intervene and bring Brittney home after the 2-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on February 17 for allegedly carrying cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage. “There is one person that can go get her, and that’s our President,” Cherell told ESPN in an interview airing Wednesday, May 25. “He has that power. I’m just like, ‘Why are we not using it? Like, urgently, use it.’ We’re expecting him to use his power to get it done.’
"Every single day matters … to make sure that she comes back."
Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, who has been detained in a Russian prison for nearly 100 days, speaks to @robinroberts about the fight to bring her home. https://t.co/A7bpCs5jQp pic.twitter.com/Yv8GFk5hfW
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 25, 2022
In another interview with Good Morning America airing the same day, Cherelle reiterated her plea to Biden. “I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. She’s a political pawn. So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”
Since the arrest, the White House has stated that Brittney — who was in Russia to play for their UMMC Yekaterinburg team during her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury team — has been wrongfully detained. However, Cherelle has only spoken to Secretary of State Antony Blinken once about her wife’s case, where Brittney is facing drug smuggling charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison in Russia. “I was grateful for the call,” Cherelle told GMA. “You say she’s top priority, but I wanna see it and I feel like to see it would be me seeing BG (Brittney Griner) on US soil. At this point I don’t even know who I’m getting back when she comes back.”
Cherelle said she first heard of the detainment when she received texts from Brittney as the athlete was being held at the Sheremetyevo airport after a flight from New York. “She started texting me around 2:00 a.m. that morning,” Cherelle said. “‘Babe. Babe. Babe. Wake up. They have me in this room. I don’t know what’s going on.’ And so I instantly text back “Who are they and what room?” Cherelle said her wife responded with a text, saying, “The customs people. They just grabbed me when I was going through, and they have me in this room. They’re about to take my phone.”
Since then, the only communication has been a few handwritten letters exchanged between the couple, who married in 2019. “The first week I laid on this couch and cried my eyeballs out,” Cherelle admitted. “I was numb. I couldn’t move. And then I said, ‘You got to get up now.’”
Speaking about the support from friends, family and the WNBA made Cherelle emotional during the interview. “It comforts BG. It let’s her know she’s not forgotten and … when you’re sitting over there, your country … they haven’t come … to your rescue yet. I know that it makes her feel good, Because she doesn’t want to be forgotten.”
The U.S. women’s pro basketball league has even put a decal of Brittney’s name and number on every WNBA court floor as an acknowledgment of her absence. “Things like that matter, like, it has her hopeful,” Cherelle explained. “It lets her know she’s not forgotten. Those small moments, I know give her some type of hope.”
Meanwhile, a State Department official in Moscow was granted access to Brittney last month and said she was in “good condition,” according to a statement. However, Russian officials have extended Brittney’s detention while the investigation is ongoing.