Brittney Griner: 1st Photo Of WNBA Star As She Arrives In U.S. From Russian Prison

The WNBA star made her return to the U.S. after spending 10 months in prison in Russia, and was photographed for the first time on Dec. 9.

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Brittney Griner is back in the United States safe and sound after being held in Russia for 10 months. The WNBA player, 32, was seen for the first time after her plane landed in San Antonio, Texas on Friday, December 9. She was photographed getting off an aircraft in the early hours of Dec. 9. The White House National Security Council Communications Coordinator said Brittney was in “very good spirits” as she arrived home.

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Brittney Griner arrives back in the U.S. (Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock)

Brittney’s imprisonment in Russia had been protested, with many Americans calling for her release, as well as officials speaking out on her behalf. Now, she’s finally returned home to be with her wife Cherelle, 29, who greeted her alongside her parents in Texas.

Brittney received medical care in Texas upon her return, according to People. WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert revealed that she’d meet Cherelle and her parents there as well. The commissioner also released a statement showing that the league was proud to have the player back in the States. ” The WNBA is grateful beyond measure to the Biden Administration, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and all those who played a role in bringing BG home today,” she said.

Brittney’s release was announced on Thursday by President Joe BidenIt was reported that she was released in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Boutwho had been arrested in 2008 for conspiring to kill Americans. The president spoke about how much work went into securing her release after she was arrested in a White House press conference. “These past few months have been hell for Brittney,” he said. “I’m glad to be able to say Brittney is in good spirits. She’s relieved to finally be heading home, and the fact remains that she’s lost months of her life, experienced a needless trauma. She deserves space, privacy and time with her loved ones to recover and heal from her time being wrongfully detained.”

Cherelle also expressed her gratitude to the president for all the work he put forward in helping her return home. “I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration,” she said.

During Brittney’s imprisonment and trial, a number of stars and her wife spoke out calling for her to be released. Celebrities like LeBron James showed support for her. “For over 100 days, BG has faced inhumane conditions in a Russian prison and has been denied communications with her family and loved ones. As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sports community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally,” the NBA star said on behalf of his company Uninterrupted.

Brittney is seen handcuffed in a Russian prison. (YURI KOCHETKOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

While Brittney’s release was certainly exciting, Biden also admitted that the administration was not able to negotiate the release of Paul Whelan, who is also being held in Russia after being accused of espionage. Both the president and Cherelle explained that they were going to keep working tirelessly to release Paul.

Brittney was arrested for possession of marijuana vape cartridges in March, shortly after Russia’s war with Ukraine began. She was tried and found guilty in August. Despite her lawyer’s appeals, she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony, which she had been transferred to the penal colony in November before her release was finalized. During her imprisonment, Cherelle said that she had limited contact with her, revealing that she’d only spoken to her three times since her arrest in a November appearance on The View.

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