Brittney Griner Celebrates 32nd Birthday While in Russian Prison

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday (October 18th), WNBA star Brittney Griner will be marking her 243rd day in Russian custody, she will also be celebrating her 32nd birthday. 

Along with Brittney Griner’s birthday, the professional basketball player’s wife, Cherelle also reflected on the past eight months. “Today marks eight months without my person! I could never forget you, and will not rest until you’re home. You should be home. It’s time to bring BG home!!” Cherelle shared in an Instagram post, which featured a video of the months Griner has been in prison. 

As previously reported, Brittney Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17th. Hashish oil, which is illegal in Russia, was discovered in the WNBA player’s luggage at an airport. She was charged with smuggling drugs into the country. Griner stated that she had no intention of breaking any Russian laws. She was later found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison. This is just below the maximum sentence of 10 years. As a result of the verdict, Griner’s lawyers have filed an appeal. A hearing will be held on October 15th. 

Brittney Griner’s attorney, Maria Blagovolina, told PEOPLE she and her team don’t know if the appeal will be successful. She noted that historically, appeals have not done much to change Russian sentences. However, she wants to keep trying to get the WNBA player out. “We need to use every legal opportunity that we have and appeal is one of these opportunities. 

Brittney Griner’s Wife Says the WNBA Star is a ‘Hostage’ in Russia 

Earlier this month, Cherelle spoke about Brittney Griner’s imprisonment and how she feels the basketball player is being kept “hostage” by the Russians. 

“On its face, it just seems like my wife is a hostage,” Brittney Griner’s wife explained. “To know that our government and the foreign government is sitting down and negotiating for her release? She’s a hostage.” 

Speaking about President Biden’s impact on the situation, Brittney Griner’s wife said, “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.”

Cherelle also said that she has heard stories about the same situation happening with Americans going through Russia. “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 did say that she’s well aware that the crime does deserve punishment. However, she believes the legal field needs to be balanced. She then said she worries she will not see Griner again.