WNBA star Brittney Griner is spending her 32nd birthday in a Russian jail cell. On Tuesday, she shared a message for her supporters through her lawyers. Meanwhile, players, coaches, and others have shared their best wishes on social media.
As reported by CNN, Griner’s attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, spent a few hours with her on her birthday. Before they left, she gave them a statement to share with everyone who has been supporting her.
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me,” read Griner’s statement.
The eight-time All-Star is currently only allowed to communicate through her lawyers and letters — all of which are carefully examined by Russian officials before they can be sent. While she might not see all the messages right away, social media has been flooded with birthday wishes. Here are some of those messages:
“How do you say happy birthday to someone who’s been wrongfully detained for 240+ days? How?” started Atlanta Dream guard Erica Wheeler in a video shared by WNBPA featuring multiple people. “BG, today and all days, we celebrate you.”
South Carolina women’s college basketball head coach Dawn Staley also made an appearance.
“Today and always we love you,” Staley said. “Happy birthday BG. Hold on.”
— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) October 18, 2022
The Phoenix Mercury shared multiple posts, including a thread with photos of Griner smiling.
“Happy birthday BG. We wish we were celebrating your day with you here,” read a tweet by the Mercury. “We’re thinking of your beautiful smile, kind heart and infectious personality everyday but especially today. We hope you feel our love in spirit and we can’t wait until we get to hug you soon.”
Her smile. Her personality. Her joy. This is who Brittney Griner is 💜 pic.twitter.com/D7YRtTTC4R
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) October 18, 2022
“Wishing you a happy birthday under these circumstances doesn’t feel real,” wrote teammate Brianna Turner. “Last saw you exactly 1 year ago for your bday dinner. Miss you like crazy Hope you received my letter today. You are not forgotten.”
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart shared a video of her and Griner hugging and said her absence is felt every day. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike shared a group photo featuring Griner’s chipped tooth from when Team USA played in France.
Happy Birthday @brittneygriner ! You’re absence is felt everyday that you are not here, but today we come together to celebrate you. We love you BG, and we will not stop until you are home! pic.twitter.com/imJo8xWRvv
— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) October 18, 2022
The WNBA posted on their official Twitter, as did USA Basketball and The Players Tribune. The NBA also jumped in.
— NBA (@NBA) October 18, 2022
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) October 18, 2022
Today Brittney Griner celebrates her 32nd birthday, not at home, not with her teammates, but after 243 days of wrongful detention.
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) October 18, 2022
Some NBA players showed their support too. Memphis Grizzlies players Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. wore Brittney Griner hoodies during Tuesday’s practice.
Grizzlies stars Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. wearing Brittney Griner hoodies at Tuesday’s practice. Today is Griner’s 32nd birthday. She’s been held in Russian prison since February. pic.twitter.com/yqcA1qgIvA
— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) October 18, 2022
Lets read more what other websites wrote about this article.
As of Oct. 18, the Phoenix Mercury center has been detained in Russia for 243 days. On Feb. 17, the customs service at Sheremetyevo International Airport searched her luggage and found vape cartridges containing marijuana concentrate hashish oil, which is illegal in Russia. Griner was found guilty and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. She has an appeal date for Oct. 25, and the United States government has been negotiating with Russia for her release. For a full explainer of Griner’s situation, click here.
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on Oct. 18, 2022.
Last week, President Biden said there had been no progress in discussing Griner’s case with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Brittney Griner turned 32 on Tuesday, and she sent a message of appreciation to her fans.
According to The New York Times, Griner met with Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, two of her Russian attorneys, for several hours on Tuesday. They said she appeared highly stressed ahead of the Oct. 25 hearing about her appeal of her drug-related conviction.
Still, according to a statement the attorneys released on her behalf, the WNBA star is grateful for her supporters.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands in a cage in a courtroom prior to a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, in August. Griner sent a message of thanks to her supporters on Tuesday, Oct. 18, which was her 32nd birthday. (Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home,” the statement said, according to the Times. “All the support and love are definitely helping me.”
Griner, who plays overseas in the WNBA off-season, has been detained in a Russian prison since March. Customs officers at the airport reportedly found her with two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She was given a nine-year prison sentence in August.
Griner’s defense lawyers said she had been prescribed cannabis for pain, according to theGrio.
The Times reported that Griner confided in her attorneys last week that she was having emotional difficulties and was pessimistic about her chances of getting released before serving her entire term. She is permitted to go outdoors once daily and spends the rest of her time in a tiny cell with two other inmates, sitting and sleeping on a specially expanded bed to fit her near 7-foot frame.
According to Boykov, Griner struggles as she waits for the appeals court hearing because it is “very difficult” for her to talk to her family. He said scheduling phone calls with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, had been challenging and that, as far as he knew, she had been unable to contact her parents or siblings since being detained.
TheGrio reported earlier this month that Cherelle Griner has claimed that her imprisoned wife is experiencing her weakest point and believes her existence is meaningless.
“She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia, or just completely used to the point of her detriment,” Cherelle Griner said of Brittney, theGrio reported.
Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden said there had been no progress in discussing Griner’s case with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Times.
The United States has said that the Kremlin wants to swap Griner for prominent Russians currently imprisoned in this country.