Home Six months after release from Russian prison, Brittney Griner named 2023 WNBA All-Star

Six months after release from Russian prison, Brittney Griner named 2023 WNBA All-Star

Brittney Griner
(© Keeton Gale – Shutterstock)

Six months ago, Brittney Griner was in a Russian prison looking at nine years of confinement.

Today, she is looking at starting for the WNBA Phoenix Mercury in July’s All-Star Game.

Griner, 32, was arrested in mid-February 2022 at a Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage.

She was traveling through Russia as a member of the UMMC Ekaterinburg based in Yekaterinburg, the third largest city in Russia. She played for the team during off seasons as a center for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013.

Griner possessed an American doctor’s recommendation for the medication, but was arrested and in August 2022 sentenced to serve nine years in a Russian penal colony.

In a prisoner exchange, the U.S. arranged for Griner’s release in December 2022. Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout returned to Russia and Griner returned home to the U.S.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been selected as an All-Star eight times before, including last year when she was named an honorary player by the WNBA.

She returned competitively to the court in May 2023 when the Mercury lost 94 to 71 to the Los Angeles Sparks. Before the game, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris greeted her.

The 2023 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game will be on ABC live at 8:30 a.m. EST on Saturday, July 15.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.