The 2014 WNBA champion was all smiles during the emotional public appearance.
Less than three months after she was released from a Russian prison, Brittney Griner made a surprise appearance at Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards. Walking out with wife Cherelle Griner, the Phoenix Mercury star was introduced by Queen Latifah and greeted with a standing ovation from the audience. Grinning from ear to ear, Cherelle spoke first, thanking everyone for the “beautiful applause.”
“We are just truly so thankful to all the people, many of whom are Black women and Black-led organizations, who fought so hard to bring BG home,” she said.
Griner made some remarks of her own, once again making a plea to free all Americans wrongfully detained overseas.
“It feels so good to be here, especially with my beautiful, amazing wife, and with all of you all here today,” she said. “I want to thank everyone, and let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas.”
Since her Dec. 8 return from a 10-month stay after Russian authorities found .702 grams of hashish oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport, Griner has advocated for the discharge of other wrongfully imprisoned individuals, namely former marine Paul Whelan. Whelan received a 16-year prison sentence in June 2020 after being arrested in December 2018 on accusations of spying. The Mercury joined the Olympic medalist in sending letters to Whelan earlier this month to demonstrate their support.
Griner officially re-signed with the Mercury last week for the upcoming 2023 campaign. The veteran inked a one-year, $165,000 deal, joining fellow superstars Diana Taurasi and Skylar-Diggins Smith in a quest to bring the team its first championship since 2014.
“We missed BG every day that she was gone and, while basketball was not our primary concern, her presence on the floor, in our locker room, around our organization, and within our community was greatly missed,” Phoenix general manager Jim Pitman said in a release. “We will continue to use the resources of our organization to support her, on and off the floor, and we are thrilled for her that she gets to return to basketball, which she loves so dearly.”
This is one of her first public appearances since coming home, so it’s nice to see the familiar BG smile fans know and love. They’ll see that smile return to the hardwood in a few months.
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