U.S. Determines WNBA Star Brittney Griner ‘Wrongfully Detained’ In Russia + How The WNBA Will Tribute Her During The Upcoming Season

WNBA star Brittney Griner is still being detained in Russia, two months after she was taken into custody for allegedly carrying cannabis oil. The United States has officially declared she’s being “wrongfully detained,” which will launch more aggressive efforts to get her released.

 

Those deets, plus what the WNBA is doing to keep her name “at the forefront” inside….

WNBA star Brittney Griner, the star center for the Phoenix Mercury, is STILL in jail overseas.

In February, the WNBA star was arrested on drug charges after airport officials searched her luggage and allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil from. Reports that she was being detained didn’t come out until reports about Russia launching a war against Ukraine were released. 

In March, Russia revealed Brittney’s detention had been extended until May 19th. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Now, the United States has officially classified Brittney has being “wrongfully detained by the Russian government.” With that, the U.S. plans to be more aggressive in its effort to secure the release of the WNBA star.

The State Department said it will continue to "undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner."

”The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Government," a department spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

A source told NBC News that Brittney is "doing OK" and that she has met with her Russian legal team multiple times a week.

The news comes on the heels of reports that American Trevor Reed, a former Marine who had spent three years in a Russian jail, had been freed. He was released in a prisoner exchange and returned to the U.S.

The former Marine was released in the prisoner exchange of Russia for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a convicted Russian drug trafficker who was serving time in Connecticut.

Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, reacted to the news of the former soldier’s release:

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by TheYBF (@theybf_daily)

A few days ago, Cherelle announced she’s graduating from law school! She’ll be graduating from The North Carolina Central University School of Law with honors (cum laude)! She shared the news on her Instagram page, including a video of Brittney rocking an “NCCU Law” sweatshirt, which you can check out below:

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by (@cherelletgriner)

 

"I didn’t just go to law school— I went to one of THE 6 HBCU law schools remaining!," Cherelle captioned. "The way my ancestors are smiling #5daystilgraduation,” she wrote. “Swipe left to see who wore it best, BG or ME! (p.s. This is clearly BG’s sweatshirt! She has more school apparel than me! Lol I love the way you support my dreams babe).”

 

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by (@cherelletgriner)

”Final grades dropped, I’ll be graduating law school with honors (cum laude)! This was no easy feat, and truthfully I didn’t even know if I could do it ! Best believe, i’ll never doubt me again #thatgirl," she captioned.

Major congrats to Cherelle! It’ll be bittersweet when she accepts her diploma being that her wife will likely not be there to witness her walk across the stage.

Meanwhile…

 

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by WNBA (@wnba)

 

The WNBA plans to acknowledge the importance of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner to the league, paying homage to the star player until her return. During the 2022 season, which tips off on Friday, May 6th, Brittney’s initials and jersey number (#42) will be featured along the sideline of all 12 WNBA courts.

“As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a press release. “We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time.”

Above is the image that’ll appear on all 12 courts.

Also, the Phoenix Mercury has been granted both roster and salary cap relief so that it can carry a replacement player until Brittney, who will be paid her full salary, returns home and is ready to get back on the court. Nice!

Photo: Keeton Gale/Shutterstock

Brittney Griner Said To Be In ‘Good Condition’ After Russia Finally Allows U.S. Access To The WNBA Star

After being detained overseas for over a month now, U.S. officials were finally granted access to WNBA star Brittney Griner. Find out everything they said inside…

WNBA star Brittney Griner finally got a chance to make contact with U.S. officials after her recent drug arrest in Moscow. And thankfully, she’s OK.

An official at the U.S. embassy in Moscow was granted consular access to WNBA All-Star on Tuesday (March 22nd) after she had been detained at a Russian airport mid-February. She had traveled to Russia to play basketball during the WNBA’s off-season.

 

Russian State TV releases #BrittneyGriner’s booking photo inside the police station. It’s the first photo of the #WNBA star since she was arrested for having vape cartridges in her luggage last month. https://t.co/G8e5hIu7lQ pic.twitter.com/r8hNgTteef

— YBF CHIC (@TheYBF) March 8, 2022

 

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN that an embassy official checked in on her condition and she is said to be doing okay.

"There’s only so much I can say," Ned said, "but what I can say is that our official found Brittney Griner to be in good condition and we will continue to do everything we can to see to it that she is treated fairly throughout this ordeal."

Peep the clip below:

 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price provides an update on US basketball star Brittney Griner who remains detained in Russia on allegations of drug smuggling. pic.twitter.com/PquLiJKqWr

— CNN (@CNN) March 23, 2022

According to CNN, Brittney’s legal team HAS had access to her and has been able to see her several times a week throughout her detention in Russia. So, that’s good.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time Women’s National Basketball Association All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury basketball team was arrested in Russia after customs officials detected cannabis oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. A report from Russian news agency TASS identified the American woman who was arrested on drug charges as 31-year-old Brittney Griner, upon arriving from New York in February. News about her arrest didn’t come out until three weeks later.

A criminal case has been opened and filed under “large-scale transportation of drugs.” Such charges carry a sentence of 5-10 years in a Russian prison. 

There was fear that Russia & Putin may want Griner as a “high-profile hostage” who could serve as a valuable bargaining chip. 

Last week, a Moscow court extended Griner’s arrest until May 19th after her request to be released on house arrest was denied. Currently, the investigation is still ongoing and a trial date has not been set, sources told CNN.

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by (@cherelletgriner)

 

Brittney isn’t out of the woods just yet, but it’s good to know that’s she okay for now. We hope it stays that way and that she’s brought home safely to be with her wife, Cherelle Griner, and family.

Photo: Keeton Gale/Shutterstock

Niele Ivey’s GLOW UP: The Grizzlies & ND Asst. Coach Just Became Head Coach Of Notre Dame Women’s Basketball & It’s EPIC

We love a good glow up! Congrats to Niele Ivey who is returning to Notre Dame’s Women’s basketball as head coach after playing a part in each of the program’s nine Final Fours. Woot! More inside…

We love a good success story, especially when a black woman is offered a position she so rightfully deserves.

Niele Ivey just became Notre Dame Women’s Basketball head coach and they better get ready because a new era is on the horizon. She’s been breaking barriers while  serving as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies, a huge accomplishment for anyone, and now it’s her time to shine at the helm.

 

Welcome home, @IrishCoachIvey.

Niele Ivey returns to @NDwbb as head coach after playing a part in each of the program’s nine Final Fours.

https://t.co/mlsSFV1CBz#WelcomeHomeNiele pic.twitter.com/00DWSRPeFk

— The Fighting Irish (@FightingIrish) April 22, 2020

 

Niele Ivey was introduced as the fourth head coach in Notre Dame women’s basketball history. She’s the successor to Hall of Fame head coach Muffet McGraw. It’s a full circle moment for Niele as she used to play for Notre Dame when she was in college under Coach McGraw.

"My heart is full of gratitude for this opportunity to lead the Notre Dame women’s basketball program and build on the legacy that Coach McGraw built." Niele said about her new position. "My love for Notre Dame is hard to capture in words, from putting on that gold uniform as a player, to walking out of that tunnel at the Joyce Center as an assistant, I feel tremendous pride and honor to represent a university that has give me so much, and I’m excited to get started."

Niele helped the Irish win their first National Championship in 2001. She ended up playing five seasons with McGraw before a short-lived career in the WNBA. After playing in the WNBA, she went to work as an assistant under McGraw for 12 seasonsAccording to reports, since Niele joined the coaching team in 2007, she helped the Irish reach the Final Four seven times and helped the program capture the second National Championship in 2018.

Do the damn thing, Coach Ivy! Congrats! And like she said:

 

God’s plan pic.twitter.com/mmmYSyoSHE

— Niele Ivey (@IrishCoachIvey) April 23, 2020

 

God’s Plan.

Photo: Niele’s Twitter

Kobe’s Daughter Gianna Bryant & Her Teammates Selected As 2020 WNBA Honorary Draft Picks + Vanessa Bryant Thanks WNBA

Gianna Bryant and her teammates, Alyssa Altobelli & Payton Chester, were selected as honorary selections for the 2020 WNBA Draft. Gigi and her father, Kobe Bryant, were also honored with an award. More about the draft, plus an emotional message from Vanessa Bryant inside…

Gianna “Gigi” Bryant and her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash back in January that also claimed the life of Kobe Bryant. Now, the WNBA is honoring the young basketball stars in a major way.

The three ladies were named honorary selections in the WNBA draft last night, which was held virtually due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to her mom Vanessa Bryant, Gigi is the youngest to be drafted in the WNBA at 13-years-old. Vanessa gathered up the strength to post a video of herself (wearing Kobe’s sweatshirt) to thank the WNBA and to share how this would have been one of Gigi’s greatest accomplishments if she were still here.

"It would have been a dream come true for her," Vanessa said in the video. "She worked tirelessly every single day, she wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy."

"So thank you," she continued. "Thank you for honoring my little girl. Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA… I want to congratulate all of this year’s draft picks. Work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality."

It was no secret Gigi wanted to follow in her dad’s footsteps and become the best player in the WNBA. She also had dreams of playing basketball at the University of Connecticut.

Check out her emotional message below:

 

 

 
 

 

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Youngest draft pick

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:25pm PDT

 

Vanessa also paid tribute to her baby girl:

 

 

 
 

 

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I’m so proud of you, Gigi. God I miss you baby. You deserved to live a long, healthy and happy life. I wish I could hold you and tell you how proud I am of you. You’re the best, baby girl. Mommy loves and misses you more than I could ever express. @WNBA #2 Gianna “Gigi” Bryant Youngest draft pick My “mambacita” a.k.a. Wings

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 18, 2020 at 12:18am PDT

 

At the beginning of the draft, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert honored Gianna, Alyssa and Payton by announcing their names and showing jerseys with their last names on them.

 

 

 

 
 

 

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Gianna Maria-Onor’e Bryant #GigiBryant #Mambacita #Wings You did it! Mommy’s proud and happy for you mamacita! We love you Gigi! @wnba #2 Youngest draft pick

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:47pm PDT

 

Also, Kobe & Gianna were honored with a special award. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the new Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award. The inaugural award will recognize "an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels."

"Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game," Engelbert said in a statement. "The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community."

Peep the clip below:

 

 
 

 

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#repost @wnba ・・・ The WNBA pays tribute to the lives of Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester by selecting them as honorary draftees in the #WNBADraft 2020.

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:44pm PDT

 

 

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:05pm PDT

 

Oregon basketball star Sabrina Ionescu – who was friends with Gianna & Kobe and spoke at their memorial – was selected by New York Liberty, making her the No. 1 overall draft pick.

 

 

 
 

 

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Congratulations @sabrina_i #1 pick #mambamentality

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:00pm PDT

 

Los Angeles Lakers baller LeBron James was tuned in and congratulated the ladies: 

 

Watching @WNBA draft! Lot of women dreams coming true. Salute and congrats to you all! #StriveforGreatness

— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 17, 2020

 

The Mamba Mentality will live on!

 

BONUS:

 

 

 
 

 

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My king, my heart, my best friend. Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby. I miss you so much. I wish you were here to hold me in your arms. I love you.

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:00am PDT

 

Today is Kobe & Vanessa’s 19th wedding anniversary. She paid tribute to him on IG while commemorating their love.

 

View this post on Instagram

My LOVE My HEART

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 18, 2020 at 9:53am PDT

Photo: Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com