Brittney Griner: 5 Things About The WNBA Star Granted Consular Access Amid Detainment In Russia

The Olympic gold medalist's detainment continues after she was arrested on drug charges -- but she was now granted consular access by the US. Find out all about Brittney Griner here.

Brittney Griner
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Image Credit: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock

Update (3/23/22 11:45 p.m. EST): Brittney Griner is now accessible to U.S. State Department Officials. It was confirmed that a U.S. Embassy official was permitted a visit as she remains detained in Moscow, with a spokesperson saying she appears “to be in good condition” per the New York Times. The official who was granted consular access was not identified.

Update (3/17/22 10:55 a.m. EST): WNBA player Brittney Griner, 31, will be held in Russia until May 19 after her arrest for drug charges for allegedly having marijuana vape cartridges containing hash oil, via ESPN. Russian news outlet TASS reported that a Moscow court had decided to extend her detention for at least two more months. Brittney could face up to 10 years in prison for the charges, according to NBC News.

Original: WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has reportedly been detained in Russia on drug charges. The two-time Olympic gold medalist, 31, was arrested at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow after Russian custom officials found marijuana vape cartridges in her luggage, according to the New York Times. A statement released by the Customs Service says a criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs,” which can result in a sentence of 5-10 years in prison if a conviction is upheld.

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner was reportedly detained in Russia on drug charges in February 2022. (CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock)

Although the Customs Service did not release a name, the Russian news service TASS identified the suspect as Griner. A security video viewed by the Times also shows a person wearing a sweatshirt and a face mask that appears to be Griner. The arrest happened in February when Griner arrived at Sheremetyevo airport from New York, per Russia’s Interfax news agency.

In a statement given to HollywoodLife, the W.N.B.A. said, “Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”

Griner’s W.N.B.A. team, the Phoenix Mercury, also released a statement, saying, “We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the W.N.B.A. and N.B.A. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”

HollywoodLife has reached out to Griner’s reps for comment as well.

Griner’s detainment comes amid increasing tensions between Russia and the United States after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an unprovoked attack on Ukraine, where hundreds of casualties have now been reported. The basketball star’s arrest could be interpreted as Russia attempting to “create leverage for a potential prisoner exchange with the American government or a reduction in sanctions related to the invasion,” per the Times.

Keep reading to find out all about Griner, below.

Brittney Was A College Phenom

Griner is the only NCAA basketball player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots when she played for Baylor University in Waco Texas. She was also named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

She Is A Basketball Pro Legend 

Griner has been voted an All-Star a total of seven times playing as a center for the Phoenix Mercury. She won Olympic gold medals with the U.S. women’s national basketball team in both 2020 and 2016.

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner was stopped at a Russian airport for reportedly carrying marijuana vape pens. (Rick Scuteri/AP/Shutterstock)

Brittney Plays For A Russian Team In Offseason

Griner played during the W.N.B.A. off-season for the Russian team Ekaterinburg in the Euroleague since 2015, where salaries are higher for WNBA players. On Saturday, a W.N.B.A. spokeswoman said all W.N.B.A. players besides Griner were out of Russia and Ukraine.

She Was Bullied As A Child For Her Sexuality

Griner came out publicly as a lesbian in an interview with Sports Illustrated on February 11, 2013. “It really wasn’t too difficult, I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that,” she explained. “I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.” She also revealed she was bullied as a child, saying, “It’s hard. Just being picked on for being different. Just being bigger, my sexuality, everything.”

Brittney Split From Her Pregnant Wife

On May 8, 2015, Griner married longtime girlfriend and fellow W.N.B.A. player Glory Johnson. Griner left Johnson 28 days after they were married, and shortly after Johnson revealed she was pregnant with IVF twins. The couple’s divorce was finalized in June 2016.

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