Brittney Griner’s wife begs for Russian clemency ahead of WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago

After WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges in a Russian court, her wife Cherelle Griner joined other leaders in Chicago on Friday in urging clemency abroad.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, spoke apart from the basketball player’s wife when they asked religious leaders to pray for Brittney Griner, who faces up to 10 years in prison.

“You guys did the unthinkable by making your presence still known and visible, even in your absence,” said Cherelle Griner.

He thanked fans for their love and support, while holding out hope for Brittney Griner’s safe return.

The Her Time to Play and AT&T Clinic will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the practice court at McCormick Place, followed by the WNBA Orange Carpet Event at 6 p.m.

“Brittney has admitted to making a mistake, and I hope that the Russian authorities will recognize that act of humility and respond with compassion,” Sharpton said in a statement. “She is in the fight of her life right now, so we will be in Chicago to show our support for Brittney and her Administration and her efforts to bring her home as soon as possible. We should all continue to pray that she finds strength in this difficult time.”

The guilty plea of the Phoenix Mercury star and two-time Olympic gold medalist came amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure his freedom nearly five months after his arrest amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia for Ukraine.

According to a statement, the White House indicated that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner on the phone. During the call, Biden read Cherelle Griner a note that he planned to send to his wife in response to her request.

The note was delivered to Brittney Griner just before her guilty plea, according to the statement.

A top Russian diplomat has previously argued that Moscow could not take any action in Griner’s case until the trial is over, and her guilty plea may be an effort by her and her advisers to speed up court proceedings.

Griner, 31, was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport when he was returning to play basketball in Russia, and police reported finding vape cans containing cannabis oil in his luggage.

Speaking through an interpreter, Griner told the court that he had no intention of committing a crime and had acted unintentionally because he had packed for Moscow in a hurry. The trial was then adjourned until July 14.

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Brittney Griner’s wife begs for Russian clemency ahead of WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago