Athlete Ally Celebrates Brittney Griner’s Release

December 8, 2022 — Today, Athlete Ally celebrated the breaking news that WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was wrongfully detained in Russia back in February, has been released in a prisoner swap and is safely on her way back to her family in the United States. 

“Over the last nine months, you all have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life,” Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner said in a press conference, describing herself as “overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration.” “Today my family is whole, but as you are all aware, there are so many families who are not whole,” she continued, saying she and Brittney will remain committed to “getting every American home, including Paul [Whalen], whose family is in our hearts today.”

“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along,” said President Joe Biden. 

“Today marks 294 days since Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia, and we’re incredibly grateful that she finally is safely on her way back home to her family,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally. “Brittney is an American icon and powerhouse Olympic, NCAA, FIBA and WNBA champion whose commitment to the community shines off the court through her “BG Heart and Sole” shoe drive to support homeless populations, and her work to speak out against anti-transgender state bills. 

Her release is the result of tireless advocacy by her wife, her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas and her team at Wasserman, the WNBPA, the WNBA, the Phoenix Mercury, Athletes 4 Impact, the National Black Justice Coalition, and countless others who joined the #WeAreBG movement. We are proud to have been one of the dozens of civil society organizations who wrote an open letter to the White House urging Brittney’s release in June of 2022. We are tremendously thankful to all who spoke out for her to be swiftly and safely brought home, and to President Biden and the team at the State Department who tirelessly worked on this case. We echo her wife Cherelle in underscoring the importance of bringing all detained Americans home, including Paul Whelan. 

As we approach the holiday season and the end of 2022, Brittney Griner’s release is a reminder of the power that Black women have always had in leading the call for justice, and the power of the global sports community in lifting up Brittney as a wife, a teammate, a champion and a friend. We cannot begin to fathom the full depth of the ordeal Brittney and her wife have endured these past 294 days. We hope that during this journey home, she feels the love of so many who hold her name in our hearts.”