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Brittney Griner at The Olympic Games-Tokyo 2020

Source: Tim Clayton – Corbis / Getty


Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been honored as a WNBA All-star and starter.

On June 22, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that the Houston native would receive the notable award ahead of the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game in July.

The huge accolade comes at a difficult time for Griner, as she’s still being detained in Russia on drug smuggling charges.  Back in February, the 31-year-old was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport after officials from the Russian Customs Service found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

“During each season of Brittney’s career in which there has been an All-Star Game, she has been selected as an All-Star,” said Engelbert in a press release. “It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents. So, it is only fitting that she be named as an honorary starter today and we continue to work on her safe return to the U.S,” she added. Throughout her career, Griner has been selected to play seven prior AT&T WNBA All-Star Games.

In early May, officials from the U.S. deemed Griner a wrongfully detained prisoner. The Office of the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) also announced that they would be overseeing the basketball star’s safe return home, but the process has been painfully slow.

In an exclusive interview with AP News on June 20, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, revealed that Brittney tried to call her nearly a dozen times for their fourth anniversary, but the call never connected as the Embassy staff wasn’t present on the weekend. Cherelle hadn’t spoken to her wife in nearly four months.

“I was distraught. I was hurt. I was done, fed up,” Cherelle told the news outlet. “I’m pretty sure I texted BG’s agent and was like: ‘I don’t want to talk to anybody. It’s going to take me a minute to get my emotions together, and just tell everybody I’m unavailable right now.’ Because it just knocked me out. I wasn’t well, I’m still not well.”

Cherelle said her reaction was exacerbated by her growing frustrations with how the U.S. government is handling her wife’s case. She felt like it was a snub since the call was scheduled almost two weeks in advance “with a weekend date.”

“I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can’t trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife’s behalf to come home? Because that’s a much bigger ask than to catch a Saturday call,” she added.

Cherelle and Griner’s family hope to speak to President Biden to help expedite her release, but they are beginning to lose hope. A Russian court recently extended Griner’s detention for a second time earlier this month. Now, the athlete will remain in custody until at least July 2.


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