The wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner begged President Joe Biden to help free her spouse from a Russian prison, where she’s been held since February.
Griner, the 6-foot, 9-inch superstar for the Phoenix Mercury, was allegedly caught at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges that contained hashish oil. She faces up to 10 years in prison under Russia’s strict anti-drug laws. On Wednesday, her wife, Cherelle Griner, appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and beseeched Biden to intervene.
“There is one person that can go get her, and that’s our president,” Griner told ESPN’s Angela Rye in an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “He has that power. You know, I’m just like, ‘Why are we not using it? Like, urgently, use it.’ We’re expecting him to use his power to get it done.”
I don’t know why we’re not always talking about this. Brittney Griner should be our biggest sports story. It’s *SURREAL* that one of our country’s most dominant athletes is being arbitrarily imprisoned by a hostile state. https://t.co/9PEdh4q4Uz
— Alex Edelman (@AlexEdelman) May 13, 2022
The Biden administration has said Griner is being wrongfully detained. But with relations between the two countries deteriorating amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is not clear what diplomatic chips the Biden administration has to play.
Cherelle Griner, who earlier this month graduated from the North Carolina Central University School of Law, said she last spoke with her 31-year-old, two-time Olympian wife on February 17. Since then, she has depended on updates from attorneys representing the basketball star.
“I’m in a position of complete vulnerability right now,” she told the ABC morning show. “I have to trust people that I didn’t even know until Feb. 17,” Cherelle Griner said. “So I’m trusting her lawyers. … ‘How does she look? How is her spirit? How is her energy?’ I’m just asking all those questions, trying to just get some type of indication or vibe.
“Some days they say, ‘She’s really strong. … She seemed in good spirits when we talked.’ And sometimes they’ll say, ‘Her energy was really low,'” she said.
Brittney Griner had flown to Russia to finish her season for UMMC Ekaterinburg when she was arrested. The team competes in the Russian Premier League and FIBA Europe’s EuroLeague. WNBA players can make far bigger salaries playing in Europe and Asia during the league’s off-season than they can earn in the United States, where interest in women’s basketball is limited. Cherelle Griner said she believes the Biden administration would be doing more it it were an NBA player being detained in Russia.
“We do live in a world that, the bigger the platform, the bigger the urgency,” Cherelle Griner said.