Brittney Griner Is Putting Her Experience in Russian Prison in a Book. Brittney Griner, a professional basketball player, has announced that she will release a biography on her “unfathomable” experience of arrest and imprisonment in Russia in the spring of 2024.
Griner was caught at the Moscow airport last year and spent most of the following year behind bars after being charged with drug trafficking. Her ordeal culminated in a swap for the notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. It co-occurred with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which heightened tensions between Russia and the United States.
Griner, an All-Star for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, flew to Moscow in February 2022 to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, the Russian club she has been with since 2014.
In a statement released Tuesday, Griner said, “That day [in February] marked the beginning of an inexplicable moment in my life which only now am I willing to disclose.”
“Making my wife, family, and teammates proud was the driving motivation behind my decision to return to Russia for work that day. I am relieved to be home after being freed from harrowing captivity that lasted for ten months. Readers will learn my backstory and come to appreciate the global outpouring of love that I have seen firsthand.”
For other Americans imprisoned abroad, such as Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in Russia last month and accused of espionage, businessman Kai Li, who is serving a 10-year sentence in China for revealing state secrets to the FBI, and corporate security executive Paul Whelan, who is imprisoned in Russia on spying charges, Griner said she hoped her book would bring attention to them. Whelan criticized the U.S. government for not doing enough to support Griner right around the time of Griner’s release.
Some of the best players in the WNBA spend their offseasons in Russia, where they can earn salaries of over $1 million, or roughly four times the average WNBA pay. Griner still faced trial under Russian law despite her guilty plea to possessing canisters with cannabis oil, which she claimed she had packed hastily.
The young adult version of Griner’s memoir will be released at some point in the future under a working title. The monetary details were not made public.
Knopf said on Tuesday that Griner would reveal “in vivid detail her horrific experience of her unjust detainment (as classified by the State Department) and the challenge of navigating the byzantine Russian court system in a language she did not know.”
The announcement states, “Griner also details her stark and bizarre period living in a foreign prison and the horrific features of day-to-day existence in a women’s penal colony.” At its core, Griner’s book is about the internal agony she endured during her journey, which lasted nearly ten months, and the resiliency that saw her through to the day she returned to the United States in December.
Griner, 32, is the first openly gay athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Nike. She is a 6-foot-9, two-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time All-American at Baylor University. She has written one book before this one, 2014’s “In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court.”
She re-signed with the Mercury in February so that she can play for them this next (May through September) season.