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Imprisoned Brittney Griner Turns 32 Behind Bars in Russia

By Hunter Dublin | October 19, 2022

The WNBA star — who was arrested at a Moscow airport on Tuesday, February 17th— will be turning 32 years old.

The judge handed down a nine-year prison sentence on Griner, who was charged with importing drugs into the country. She will have to serve her time just below the maximum 10 years sentence. Maria Blagovolina, Griners lawyer had said the sentence was "absolutely unreasonable."

The athlete's lawyers have appealed the arbitration decision, and hearings for that will begin on October 25th.

Even though Blagovolina has said that the appeal might not be successful, they are still going to try. Historically, Russian prison sentences haven't changed much from appeals, but they have to try anyway.

"We need to use every legal opportunity that we have, and appeal is one of these opportunities," she said.

Griner is likely living in a detention center that is part of the prison penal colony as she awaits her hearing, and for any news on a potential prisoner exchange between Russia and the U.S.

Griner's wife, Cherelle, spoke publicly on Oct. 5 with CBS Morning's Gayle King saying Brittney is a "hostage."

"On its face it just seems like my wife is a hostage. To know that our government and the foreign government is sitting down and negotiating for her release? She's a hostage," Cherelle said.

President Biden is making efforts to secure Griner's release. Cherelle told King, "He's doing what he can. But there's another party in this situation, and we also are dealing with the need for Russia to have mercy on B.G. as well."

"I have heard so many stories about this exact situation happening with Americans going through Russia and at the airport they were told, 'Pay a fine and go on with your day.' But because B.G. is Brittney Griner, I do think this got really complicated really quickly," Cherelle told King.

Cherelle emphasized that she is well aware that crime deserves punishment, especially since she works in the legal field, but "it must be balanced."


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