Brittney Griner is Finally Free

Brittney Griner is Finally Free

Rishab Kamat, Writer

        On December 8, 2022, the world woke up to news.  The amazing news was that, in a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia, Brittney Griner was freed by Russia and was coming home.  The WNBA star was detained in Russia for nearly 10 months until she was released.

        Who is Brittney Griner?  Griner is a Women’s National Basketball Association player for the Phoenix Mercury.  Representing the United States, she is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a 2014 WNBA champion with the Phoenix Mercury, and a six-time WNBA All-Star.  She is by far the best blocker in the WNBA, and is 6 feet 9 inches tall, making her 2 inches taller than the average NBA (National Basketball Association) player.  

        On February 17 of this year, Brittney Griner was detained in Russia, accused of bringing hashish oil into her luggage.  Hashish oil is from a marijuana plant, and is a crime in Russia.  Even though she was innocent, Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison in the summer of 2022. People around the sports world were shocked, and, until the day she was released, everybody from her teammates to players in different sports leagues honored her and spread awareness about the situation.  Her situation was even spread by NBA legend Stephen Curry on a live TV event on ESPN! It is Safe to say that everyone was praying for her freedom. 

        So, who was Griner swapped for?  Well, she was swapped for Russian arms [weapon] dealer Viktor Bout.  Despite Griner’s 9-year sentence, Bout was sentenced to about 25 years in prison.  The swap actually didn’t happen in either country involved in the swap.  It happened in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  There, Griner and Bout met and were swapped, with Bout going home to Russia, and Griner going back to the United States.