Sports

Dallas Sports Celebrates Brittney Griner's Return

Basketball star Brittney Griner is officially free.
Basketball star Brittney Griner is officially free. Mike Mattina/Getty
On Thursday morning, the news broke that WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner had been released following 10 months of imprisonment in Russia. She had been convicted of drug possession and smuggling.

President Joe Biden shared photos of himself, Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, in the Oval Office along with the tweet: "Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home."

Biden held a press conference at the White House on Thursday morning to announce that Griner had been released and returned to the U.S. as part of a one-for-one U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson welcomed Griner home on Twitter. “I am grateful that our fellow Texan, Brittney Griner, has finally been released back to the United States," he wrote. "Dallas sends our best wishes to Brittney and her family as they await her return.”

North Texas teams joined others in the sports world in welcoming home the 32-year-old Phoenix Mercury center, who is a Houston native and played basketball for the Baylor Lady Bears in Waco from 2009 to 2013.

"After nearly 10 months, we are thrilled and relieved to hear the long-awaited news of BG's return,” Nicki Collen, Baylor women's basketball coach, told ESPN. “Today is the day we've been praying for, and we will continue to pray as she reunites with her family and begins recovering from her experience. Baylor family, she's coming home!"

The WNBA’s Dallas Wings tweeted a photo of Griner with the caption, “Today our sister and our fellow Texan is coming home. Sending love to BG and Cherelle from the entire Dallas Wings family.” The Dallas Mavericks reshared the tweet on the team's social media accounts.

Griner's team Phoenix Mercury wrote “She’s on her way,” with the official statement: “Miraculously, mercifully, the count of days detained has ended at 294, and our friend, our sister is headed back home where she belongs. The emotions for our organization, just like for our fans and so many across the world, are those of joyous celebration, deep gratitude, grief for the time lost, and sincere hope for all families still awaiting the return of a loved one ... "

Griner was detained in February 2022 while traveling to Russia to play overseas games during the WNBA offseason. Griner pleaded guilty to the drug charges of possession and smuggling in August and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment by the Russian court, which also rejected an appeal request by Griner’s defense team in October. Griner is the second Texan involved in a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia in 2022.

In exchange for Griner's release, the Biden administration released Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was returned to Russian custody on Thursday.

Griner had not released an official statement.

From the White House, Cherelle Griner issued a statement, saying, “Over the last nine months, you all have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life. Today I’m overwhelmed with emotions. But the most important emotion I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration. Today is a happy day for me and my family. I’m going to smile right now.”

Here’s how Dallas athletes, sports personalities and celebrities reacted to the news of Brittney Griner’s homecoming:
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Bryson "Boom" Paul has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2019. A Dallas resident by way of California, he has written for LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Hip Hop DX and ThisisRNB. He is a CSUB graduate and has interviewed Yella Beezy, Sean Paul, Master P and others.

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