When Brittney Griner boarded an American plane to start her journey back home, she was eager to speak to people. According to a report from the Associated Press, the WNBA star spent around 12 hours of her 18-hour flight mingling with those around her.
One of the things Griner said when she boarded? “I have been in prison for 10 months now, listening to Russian. I want to talk.”
That’s according to Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs. He traveled with Griner after her release from a Russian prison last week. After being around the WNBA star on the flight, Carstens had nothing but positive things to say.
“I was left with the impression this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person,” Carstens said. “But above all, authentic. I hate the fact that I had to meet her in this manner, but I actually felt blessed having had a chance to get to know her.”
Griner had been detained in Russia since February. She was arrested for possessing vape cartridges that contained hashish oil. A court found her guilty on the drug-related charges, sentencing her to a nine-year prison term.
Last week, Russia and the United States agreed to a one-on-one prisoner exchange. Russia released Griner and the United States released arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Brittney Griner Gets in Light Basketball Workout
It’s the first time Griner has practiced in 10 months. Though she participated in some light work, she’s not really ready to say whether she’s ready for a return to the WNBA.
“If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to rest and decide what’s next without any pressure,” said Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas. “She’s doing really, really well. She seems to have endured this in pretty incredible ways.”
Griner has not released a statement since her return but is expected to at some time this week.