August 19, 2022
Brittney Yevette Griner (born October 18, 1990 in Houston, Texas) is an American basketball player for the North American professional league WNBA. She has been in the Phoenix Mercury squad since 2013. The 2.03 meter tall Griner is mainly used in the center position and is considered one of the best and most dominant players in women's basketball. Blocking is one of her greatest strengths in the game. She is also one of the few female basketball players who can dunk. Prior to her professional basketball career, she played for Baylor University from 2009 to 2013 and won the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship with the Baylor Lady Bears in the 2011-12 season. In the 2013 WNBA Draft, Griner was selected as the 1st overall pick by Phoenix Mercury, with whom she won the 2014 WNBA championship title. As a player on the United States women's national basketball team, she won two world titles (2014 and 2018) and two gold medals at the Olympic Games (2016 and 2020). During the WNBA off-season, Griner first played for two Chinese teams and since 2015 for the Russian club UGMK Yekaterinburg, with whom she was Russian champion six times and won the Euroleague Women four times. In 2013, she came out to the media as a lesbian. Since then she has been publicly committed to the LGBTQ community. On February 17, 2022, Griner was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on charges of illegal drug possession and smuggling after a small amount of hash oil was found in her luggage. On August 4, 2022, she was sentenced to nine years in prison and a fine. The arrest and the amount of the sentence are considered by the US government to be illegal and politically motivated. She is campaigning for Griner's release and has offered Russia a prisoner exchange. Numerous sports greats and other celebrities have expressed their support for Griner on social media.