Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle shared how emotional it was to see the WNBA star back in the United States in a new interview with People, published on Tuesday, December 27. Cherelle, 30, said that after waiting for medical personnel to give Brittney, 32, the okay to deplane, they were both taken by a whirlwind of emotions.
After 10 months apart, Cherelle revealed that she was overwhelmed with emotion that her wife had returned home, after being arrested on drug charges in Russia. “We were both just instantly crying,” she told the outlet. “I was standing there full of tears and someone ran over and handed me a handkerchief. I definitely needed it.”
The now-lawyer also revealed that she was still in disbelief and stayed up with her all night long, being happy to finally have a chance to speak face-to-face. “I couldn’t stop touching her face. I was like, ‘Is this really you?’ It did not feel real. It was chilling — and warm. I was just holding on tight. I couldn’t let her go,” she told People. “We just talked all night long and all morning. And it was so good to be able to do it without three weeks in between the conversation, because for 10 months we were passing letters. It was great to have that dialogue back and forth.”
Cherelle also recalled the relief that she had when President Joe Biden told her that Brittney was finally returning home after being away for 10 months. “I was overwhelmingly happy. It was the first time I was able to finally exhale, and I’m like, ‘Oh, thank God, this is such a great day,'” she said.
Brittney was arrested in Moscow for possessing marijuana vape cartridges in February. The basketball player was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison in August, but her legal team continued to fight, working to appeal the decision. Biden announced that the government had made a deal with Russia to bring Brittney back in a prisoner exchange. The U.S. released convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout back to Russia in exchange for the WNBA star.
Since her release, Brittney opened up about getting to return home in an Instagram post. “The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help,” she wrote in a post.