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WNBA star Brittney Griner is uplifting her community and fans a month after her release from a Russian penal colony.

The Phoenix Mercury player made a surprise appearance at the Arizona MLK March and Festival Jan. 16 — what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 94th birthday. 

The MLK day event saw people from all over Phoenix, come together to commemorate the impactful and peace-promoting civil rights leader.

Griner, 32, attended the march at Margaret T. Hance Park with her wife, Cherelle Griner. 

The athlete took photos with her fans and supporters before leaving the event in good spirits.

Griner said she’s glad to be home, per NBC’s 12News.

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Brittney Griner Regains Freedom

In December, Griner returned to the United States through a prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The 6-foot-9 basketball player arrived with noticeably low haircut and without her familiar long locs. 

The two-time Olympic gold medalist’s return to the U.S. ended her stint at a Russian penal colony where she was detained. 

Russian authorities apprehended Griner in a Moscow airport in February 2022 for having hashish oil vape cartridges in her possession.

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Griner stated that her possession of the cartridges was unintentional when she pled guilty in a Russian court to the drug charges against her in July. 

The athlete was sentenced to serve nine years in Russian prison in August.

In a lengthy message shared on Instagram in December, Griner thanked all who fought for her freedom. 

The Phoenix Mercury player also shared her intention to return to the WNBA’s courts. 

“I also want to make one thing very clear,” Grinner told her followers. “I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon.”


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