WNBA star Brittney Griner is back in the United States and her family could not be more happy.
Last Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that the Phoenix Mercury was on a plane home after spending nine months overseas in a Russian prison. After the Biden administration negotiated for months with the Russian government, they agreed to do a prisoner swap: Brittney Griner for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“Moments ago, standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances,” President Biden announced in a press conference, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and the WNBA player’s wife, Cherelle.
“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should’ve been there all along,” he continued. “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release. It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I wanna thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.”
From Russia, Griner boarded a private jet that flew 18 hours straight to San Antonio, Texas for a medical examination and to reunite with her family. “So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil. Welcome home BG,” U.S. Special Presidential Envoy Roger Carstens tweeted after the basketball star arrived in America.
Roger Carstens described Brittney Griner’s flight home
Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, also discussed Griner’s release and shared his experience taking the basketball player back to the States. According to Carstens, the chance to speak with the 32-year-old Olympic gold medalist was life-changing. He recalled the athlete spending 12 hours out of the 18-hour flight speaking to those accompanying her back to the US.
“She moved right past me and went to every member on that crew, looked them in the eyes, shook their hands and asked about them, got their names, making a personal connection with them,” he relayed in an interview, according to Associated Press. “It was really amazing.”
“I was left with the impression this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person,” Carstens continued. “But above all, authentic. I hate the fact that I had to meet her in this manner, but I actually felt blessed having had a chance to get to know her.”
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