Brittney Griner, who was the No.1 WNBA pick in 2013, has been detained in Russia since mid-February following airport security allegedly finding cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage.
The crime carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, which raises concerns for the well-being of the basketball star. Countless teammates and those close to the athlete have expressed their concern over Griner’s detention, including WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Standing before the media during the league’s draft process in New York, the commissioner mentioned how the WNBA is doing all it can to bring the Phoenix Mercury player home.
“This is an unimaginable situation for BG to be in,” Engelbert began, according to ESPN. “She continues to have our full support. Certainly, we’re trying everything we can, every angle, working with her legal representation, her agent, elected leaders, the administration. Just everybody in our ecosystem to try and find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as we can.”
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert says ‘we know she’s safe’ in regards to Brittney Griner
Engelbert mentioned that representatives of the WNBA have been in close contact with Griner and are happy to report the basketball player is staying safe. “We’re getting a ton of support from the government, from specialists. Her representation is able to visit with Brittney, we know she’s safe,” the commissioner commented.
“But we want to get her home. We’re following the advice … there’s not a day that goes by that we’re not talking to someone who has views on what we’ve been doing and how we’re moving forward,” she continued.
Despite being safe, Griner’s detention was extended until at least May 12th, which is six days after the start of the WNBA season. Alongside missing the start of the season, the basketball player is unable to dedicate time to her philanthropic project, BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, which seeks to give new or gently used shoes to homeless people in the Phoenix area. Due to her absence, Engelbert mentioned that the Mercury will continue to put effort into the organization.
Engelbert explained, “The activations we will do are intended to remind us of BG’s spirit of giving, and do the work that she’d be doing if she were here, and the work she will join us in when she returns.”
“I know we’re all frustrated, but we do need to be patient. The players have been amazing at following the advice they’re getting and we’re getting in order not to jeopardize her safety in any way,” she included.
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