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Brittney Griner Says She’ll Never Go Overseas Again After Imprisonment

In a news conference on Thursday, Britney Griner said she’ll “never go overseas again” to play basketball, unless it’s for the Olympics after being detained in Russia for 10 months.

The press conference was the first time Griner had spoken to reporters since her release.

“I’m never going overseas to play again unless I’m representing my country at the Olympics. If I make that team, that would be the only time I would leave the U.S. soil, and that’s just to represent the USA,” the Phoenix Mercury star explained

The two-time Olympic gold-medalist spent almost 300 days in Russian custody and was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug-smuggling charges after Russian authorities found cannabis oil in her luggage. She was released in a one-for-one prisoner exchange for international arms dealer Viktor Bout in December and returned to the U.S. a day later. 

The 32-year-old, like many WNBA stars, played in international leagues overseas during the Mercury’s offseason. Griner was traveling to meet her Russian team, UMMC Yekaterinburg, when she was arrested at the Moscow airport.

Griner spoke of her concern of other Americans being detained internationally, what helped her get through her imprisonment and her belief in her ability to return to an elite level in the WNBA. 

“I’m no stranger to hard times,” Griner said about the resilience she needed during her detainment. “You’re going to be faced with adversities throughout your life, and this was a pretty big one. But I just kind of relied on my hard work. Getting through it. You find a way to just grind it out.”

Toward the end of the conference, Griner asked for a round of applause for her wife, Cherelle and thanked her family, President Joe Biden and his administration, the Mercury organization, the WNBA, and fans who supported her and worked for her freedom. 

Griner announced earlier this month she will release a memoir next year detailing her “raw, emotional” story of her arrest and detainment in Russia. 

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