Speed Reads

Words of gratitude

Brittney Griner makes 1st public statement since prisoner swap: 'It feels so good to be home!'

Brittney Griner made her first public statement since returning home to the U.S. last week after a prisoner swap with Russia. The basketball star expressed gratitude for all who helped secure her release and vowed to return to the basketball court for the upcoming WNBA season. 

In a lengthy Instagram post, Griner reflected on her return to the U.S. and talked about her plans for the near future. The Olympic gold medalist thanked her many supporters, including her family and legal team, the WNBA, and the Biden-Harris administration. 

"It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn." She added, "I dug deep to keep my faith, and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going."

Griner was in Russia to play basketball during the WNBA offseason when she was detained at the airport in February for having cannabis oil cartridges in her luggage. She pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to nine years in prison. After months of tense negotiations between the White House and Moscow, she was released in a swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout last week. 

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner's agent, told NPR that she's doing well and "benefitting from all of the resources that the U.S. government provides to someone like her, who has been through so much and is now into this next phase of reintegration."

Griner also clarified her plans for the upcoming season. "I also want to make one thing very clear," she wrote. "I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say 'thank you' to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon."