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Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces - Game Five

Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner Source: Ethan Miller / Getty

After almost 10 months, Brittney Griner and her wife Cherelle Griner were reunited. The Phoenix Mercury baller was released to the United States after being sentenced to nine years in Russian prison on drug smuggling and possession charges.

After Brittney Griner was sentenced, Cherelle Griner’s life was turned upside down.

“I was hopeless a lot of days,” she told People. “You try and stay grounded, but I’m human. Still, I would never completely give up hope on my wife’s life.”

Just after Thanksgiving, Russia traded Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Once she touched down on U.S. soil, the lovebirds had an emotional embrace as they reunited.

“We were both just instantly crying. I was standing there full of tears and someone ran over and handed me a handkerchief. I definitely needed it. I couldn’t stop touching her face. I was like, ‘Is this really you?’ It did not feel real. It was chilling — and warm. I was just holding on tight. I couldn’t let her go.”


Now that they are back together, the Griner’s are focused on creating a new normal.

“We’re mindful of the fact you can’t go backwards. You say, ‘Oh, let’s get back to normal. We do understand that the normal we are referring to was what we were doing before February 17. We reminisce about certain things in the past. Still, we’re trying to make sure we’re not going backwards. For the most part, we’re focused on what’s in store next for the both of us.”

While Griner was detained, her wife graduated from law school. While she was away, Cherelle said her wife’s situation inspired her to dedicate her career to advocating for wrongfully detained prisoners.

I realized how voiceless the issue is. I was 29 when Brittney was detained, and that’s when I found out that it was even a real thing. That shouldn’t be the case. I should have known about that before, which means we need more voices around this issue. My story came full circle. But there’s so many other Americans, their story is not full circle. And so it’s changed everything about what I thought I was going to do career-wise.

As for Brittney Griner’s career, she has been medically cleared and has been working out with her Phoenix Mercury teammates.

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