WNBA players celebrate Brittney Griner’s Russian release

The WNBA community is celebrating Brittney Griner’s return to the United States after she was freed from Russia on Thursday in a prisoner exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner was held for nearly 10 months in Russian prisons after she was arrested on drug smuggling charges at an airport in the Moscow region in February.

Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart tweeted, “BG is FREE!!! 294 days and she is coming home!!!”

Connecticut Sun center and 2021 MVP, Jonquel Jones took to Twitter, writing, “BG Freeeeeeee Praise the Lord thank you Jesus!!!”

In separate tweets, Jones wrote, “How bout Christmas miracles! God Is good! I’m so happy right now! BG free!!!!” followed by, “When I tell you nothing could kill my vibe today! My sis is coming home BG is FREE.”

“BG” wrote two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson. “God is so good”

Los Angeles Sparks player Amanda Zahui B. tweeted, “BRITTNEY WE LOVE YOU!!! we have been waiting on your homecoming and it’s finally happening!!” — writing in a separate tweet that she “cannot stop crying.”

Sparks forward, Chiney Ogwumike added, “The best news to start our day with: finally, our sister BG is coming home!! So grateful for all those who tirelessly worked to make this happen. Welcome home, Brittney!!!!”

President Biden tweeted about Griner’s release Thursday morning, writing that he spoke to the WNBA star and she is on a plane on her way back to the United States.

Brittney Griner stands inside a defendants cage before a court hearing outside of Moscow on Aug. 4, 2022.

Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing outside of Moscow on Aug. 4, 2022.
Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing outside of Moscow on Aug. 4, 2022.

The post included smiling photos of the president and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office with Griner’s wife, Cherelle.

WNBA icon Sue Bird, who retired after Seattle’s playoff loss in September, reposted Biden’s tweet, writing, “BG is free.”

New York Liberty center Stefanie Dolson also shared Biden’s tweet, writing, “ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!!!!!! She’s finally COMING HOME!!!!”

Brittney Griner (15) runs up court during women's basketball gold medal game against Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Aug. 8, 2021, in Saitama, Japan.
Brittney Griner (15) runs up court during women’s basketball gold medal game against Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Aug. 8, 2021, in Saitama, Japan.
AP
Cherelle Griner discusses the release by Russia of her wife, WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden listen, during an appearance in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. Dec. 8, 2022.
Cherelle Griner discusses the release by Russia of her wife, WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. Dec. 8, 2022.
REUTERS

After Griner’s arrest, the WNBA and its players publicized countless pleas and calls to action for her return. Griner’s initials and “42” jersey number were placed onto the courts of all 12 WNBA teams this past season. Players also wore “BG” pins and continued to fight for her release on social media.

NBA players including LeBron James, Steph Curry, Chris Paul and Ja Morant publicly urged for Griner’s return, with some players wearing sweatshirts with Griner’s face and number on them.