Brittney Griner Makes Surprise NYC Appearance, Vows to Fight ‘for Every American Detained Overseas’

WNBA star Brittney Griner is paying it forward now that she’s officially back home after being detained in Russia for 10 months.

via: Daily News

Griner, who was behind bars in Russia for 10 months last year after being caught at a Moscow airport with a vial of cannabis vaping oil, voiced gratitude to Sharpton for the role he played in helping broker her release back to the U.S. in December.

“It means everything to be here today,” she said in brief remarks after being introduced by Sharpton at his National Action Network convention at the Sheraton Hotel near Times Square. “Everyone in this room that came together, sent out every prayer, it reached me while I was there, and I just want to thank every single one of you here.”

Griner, a center on the Phoenix Mercury, said that in addition to her basketball career, she plans to dedicate herself to advocating for U.S. citizens locked up abroad.

“I want to continue to fight to bring home every American detained overseas,” she said. “We have to reunite all those families that are going through this really strange time, challenging time.”

The six-time WNBA all-star player’s surprise appearance in the city came on the heels of an announcement that she plans to write a memoir about her “unfathomable” imprisonment in Russia.

Griner’s detention gained international attention after a Russian judge sentenced her to nine years in prison for supposedly trafficking drugs in the country. The stiff sentence was handed down in spite of the fact that Griner said she has a medical license for cannabis.

Her release was secured as part of a prisoner swap orchestrated by President Biden’s administration that resulted in the U.S. setting free Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian weapons dealer known as the “merchant of death.”

The exchange came against the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. International analysts speculated that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime drummed up the charges against Griner as a way to gain leverage over the West.

Introducing Griner, Sharpton, who was among a contingent of U.S. civil rights leaders who called on Biden to secure her freedom, said she’s a “shining example that you can take a licking and keep on ticking.”

“It takes a strong woman to take what she took and come back with a smile on her face,” he added.

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