For almost five months the player of the WNBA Brittney Griner has remained in detention in Russia, after authorities arrested her on cannabis possession charges. After a highly criticized trial, it was revealed that her sentence is 9 years in prison, which has sparked even more outrage worldwide.
Here’s everything you need to know about Griner and his case.
Brittney Griner is a 31-year-old player from Houston, who from an early age became interested in the world of sports, playing volleyball and basketball. Her name went viral on YouTube thanks to several videos in which she was seen making spectacular dunks, which at the time led her to meet Shaquille O’Neal.
She joined Baylor University in 2009 and had a brilliant four-year career as one of the NCAA’s greats, becoming the national champion in 2011-12. She averaged 22.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game as a college player. She would eventually be chosen by the Phoenix Mercury as the first pick in the 2013 WNBA draft.
During nine seasons with Phoenix, Griner became one of the most dominant centers in the WNBA, ranking as the scoring champion twice and the block leader in eight seasons.
She received eight calls to the All-Star Game, six to the WNBA All-Star Team and was also the league’s Best Defensive Player twice. She records averages of 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 254 games played. In 2014 she won her only championship ring, being one of the most outstanding figures of her team in the postseason.
It became customary for Griner to play European basketball during the WNBA offseason, playing for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2012 and winning a total of four EuroLeague Women’s trophies. In addition to standing out at the club level, she also did so as a player for the United States team, adding two gold medals at the Olympic Games (2016 and 2020).
On February 17, Griner was arrested in Russia and accused of carrying drugs, something that is heavily penalized in that country. As reported, her arrest took place at the Sheremetyevo international airport in Moscow and vaporizer cartridges containing cannabis oil were found on her, which, although they have medicinal use, are prohibited in Russia.
Unfortunately for Griner, relations between the United States and Russia are at a difficult time due to the conflict in Ukraine, which is why his trial became a political tool and he has not been able to receive help from his country. She was sentenced on August 4 to 9 years in prison and must also pay a fine of one million rubles ($16,000).
Throughout his time in detention in Russia, the American sports leagues, led by the WNBA, have demanded that the government deport him, something that was denied by the Russians on more than one occasion. The United States government, led by President Joe Biden, has begun negotiations for a prisoner exchange, but so far nothing is official.
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Who is Brittney Griner, the basketball player sentenced to 9 years in prison in Russia?