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The Story Behind Brittney Griner, the US Basketball Star Detained in Russia


In February 2021, Brittney Griner, a star player on the U.S. women’s national basketball team, was arrested in Russia on charges of drug smuggling. Russian authorities claim they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in Griner’s possession at Customs. If convicted, Griner faces up to ten years in a Russian penal colony.

The Story Behind Brittney Griner’s Arrest in Russia

Brittney Griner is a six-foot-eight-inch tall professional basketball player who currently plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She was the number one overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft and is a two-time WNBA All-Star. In February 2021, while Griner was in Russia with the U.S. national team for a training camp before the Tokyo Olympics, she was arrested at Customs and accused of smuggling drugs into the country.

Russian authorities claim they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in Griner’s possession. Hashish oil is a concentrated form of cannabis that can be used for vaping or smoking. If convicted of drug smuggling, Griner faces up to ten years in a Russian penal colony.

Brittney Griner’s Professional Career 

Brittney Griner played college basketball at Baylor University, where she led the Bears to an undefeated season and a national championship in 2012. She was named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament that year. In 2013, she was drafted number one overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Draft.

Griner is a two-time WNBA All-Star and won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women. She has also been honored with numerous recognitions for her work off the court, including being named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most influential People in 2017 and receiving ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2019.

Griner's lawyers said that a Russian court found her guilty in August of attempting to smuggle illegal narcotics into the country.  Court issued her a fine of roughly $16,300. The Times reported that Russian courts usually issue harsher sentences to high-profile foreigners and defendants are rarely acquitted, but Griner and her team had appealed for leniency. "I made an honest mistake," Griner told the judge in her testimony before the sentencing. "I hope that in your ruling that it doesn't end my life here." Griner's freedom is now contingent on diplomatic negotiations between the U.S. and Russia.

LGBTQ Identity

The arrest of American basketball player Brittney Griner in Russia is a worrying development, given the country's hostile stance toward the LGBTQ+ community. Griner, who is an openly gay black woman, was taken into custody after getting into a fight with another woman at a nightclub in Moscow. Her case has drawn international attention, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that the State Department is "doing everything we can" to secure her release. Russian president Vladimir Putin has been an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ+ rights, and Griner's case highlights the dangers faced by members of the community in the country. Coordinated efforts to secure Griner's freedom are ongoing, and it is hoped that she will be released soon.

Contributed By Sana Mubashar

I am Sana a fulltime freelance content writer. With 4+ years’ experience and 600+ international clients I am working on different freelancing platforms. My area of expertise are Website landing page, Copy writing, Blog post writing, Affiliate Writing, Product review, Press release and other type of writing.


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