May 8, 2024 - News

Brittney Griner reflects on life in Russian prison in new memoir

Photo of Brittney Griner in a red USA jersey

Brittney Griner is preparing for the WNBA season with the Phoenix Mercury. Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

WNBA star Brittney Griner recounts the harrowing details of her time in a Russian prison in her new memoir "Coming Home," released yesterday.

What she's saying: "I did not feel like a human at that point, and just everything was setting in on the unknown," she told NPR. "I just sat there and thought about ending it — just came up with a plan on how I could do it."

Catch up quick: Griner, the Olympic and WNBA star from Houston, was arrested in February 2022 after Russian authorities found two vape cartridges with traces of doctor-prescribed cannabis oil in her luggage while going through customs at a Moscow-area airport.

  • Griner pleaded guilty but said she had "no intent" to break the law. She was sentenced to nine years in prison.
  • She was incarcerated for 10 months before being released in a prisoner swap with a notorious Russian arms dealer.

In "Coming Home," Griner recounts being mentally and physically humiliated by guards, the temperature being so cold her locs froze, squeezing her 6-foot-9 frame into a cramped bed and other disturbing realities from the "work camp."

  • "I didn't leave anything out from the detainment, to being over there, the conditions. As much as we could fit into a book, we basically did," Griner said. "People will be shocked at some of the things."

Between the lines: Griner, assisted by her co-writer, Michelle Burford, also delves into what it's like to grow up Black, female, gay and tall in Texas. People teased Griner — when she was young and into adulthood — for her height, deep voice and flat chest.

  • "I get mistaken for male so frequently I've learned to just keep it moving," she writes. "My heart, however, can't always."

What's next: Griner and her wife, Cherelle Griner, are expecting a little boy. She's hopeful for the future and is eyeing the Olympics.

  • "I wouldn't be here without my country. And to go and potentially win another gold medal for us, it's just going to mean so much standing on that podium and watching the flag go up," she told NPR.
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