‘I Don’t Know If She Has Anything Left’: Hoops Star’s Wife Says Russian Prison Is Killing Her
US Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, sits inside a defendants' cage after the court's verdict during a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - A Russian court found Griner guilty of smuggling and storing narcotics after prosecutors requested a sentence of nine and a half years in jail for the athlete. (Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

WNBA star Brittney Griner is quickly losing hope in her Russian prison cell, her wife told “CBS Mornings” host Gayle King on Thursday.

Cherelle Griner made an appearance on the show on behalf of her wife, who was arrested in Russia back in February of this year. The WNBA all-star and Olympic gold medalist was later convicted of drug possession and sentenced in early August to nine years in a Russian prison.

As Cherelle told King on Thursday, just two months into that nine-year sentence, she worried that Brittney was at the “weakest moment” of her life.


“On its face, it just seems like my wife is a hostage,” Cherelle explained to King. “To know that our government and a foreign government is sitting down and negotiating for her release — she’s a hostage.”

Cherelle said that she had been encouraged after meeting with President Joe Biden, and that she believed he wanted to do what he could to bring Brittney home — but she noted that it was ultimately going to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval to get her released and sent home to the United States.

She also said that she suspected Brittney’s prominence as a star athlete had been part of the reason that the Russian government had dealt with her so harshly — she cited a number of people who had reported getting caught in Russia with similar contraband and been told to simply pay a fine while Brittney had been sentenced to nine years for less than an ounce of cannabis oil in vape cartridges.

But Cherelle’s biggest concern, she told King, was that Brittney was struggling just to make it from day to day.

“BG has truly suffered beyond her crime already,” she said, noting that after her first phone call she had felt encouraged that they could “survive this.” After a second phone call, however, she worried that things had changed.

“The minute I hung up, I think I cried for about two, three days straight,” she said. “It was the most disturbing phone call I’d ever experienced … you could hear that she was not okay.”

“I don’t know if she has anything left in her tank to continue to wake up every day and be in a place where she has no one,” Cherelle continued.

“BG is at her absolute weakest moment in life right now. She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia, or just completely used to the point of her detriment,” Cherelle said. “She’s saying things to me like, ‘my life just don’t even matter no more.’”

She said that they were hoping for a prisoner swap in the next two weeks, adding that if that did not happen, Brittney could be sent to a labor camp.

“Your life matters to me,” Cherelle said she told Brittney. “I want to get you back home, and I’m going to continue to pray every day that the decision-makers in this situation will have mercy, and will sit down and they will, too, see your life matters and do whatever they can to agree on terms.”

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