Brittney Griner Shares Painful Details Of Russian Detainment

Brittney Griner recently shared the grueling details of her detainment in one of Russia’s worst prisons.

The WNBA star sat down with Robin Roberts in a special edition of 20/20 to discuss the painful memories.

RELATED: Brittney Griner Re-Signs To WNBA Phoenix Mercury Team With 1-Year $165K Contract

At the start of the interview, the 33-year-old and the broadcaster took a trip down memory lane. Roberts showed her a video from her high school hoop days when Griner rocked cornrows. The Phoenix Mercury fondly laughed and commented on how thin she was.

Additionally, they discussed how her body quickly grew, and her voice became deeper as an adolescent. Brittney went through a number of tests to figure out the cause, but she eventually asked her parents if they could stop.

The conversation intensified when Brittney shared how she was caught with cartridges filled with cannabis oil as she traveled overseas to play basketball in Russia.

Brittney Details The Horror Of Detainment

Griner was detained in jail before her trial. She stated there was a hole in the ground for her to use the bathroom. Additionally, she was forced to use one of her shirts to clean herself because they didn’t provide tissue. Number 42 says she became fearful when she was moved to the group area of the detention center.

When Brittney arrived, she stated a knife was left behind by guards. The Texas native said “dirt, dust, and grime” filled the living quarters. “Blood stains” were also evident. Additionally, Griner stated she ate a “thick porridge” that was like “cement” because it was so hard. She was also only given two thin sheets to sleep with in the freezing cell.

Furthermore, Brittney shared that she was given one roll of toilet paper per month. Moreover, she stated there was a point when prisoners went without tissue for 2-3 months. Griner also explained that the toothpaste they were provided was 15 years old and the inmates used it to kill the mold on the walls instead of using it.

The women were often tortured by being left outside in blizzards for 2-3 hours.

Brittney Shared She Thought About Ending Her Life

Brittney said there were many times that she thought about ending her life.

“I definitely thought about it,” she told Robin. She said the thought that Russian officials might not release her body to her family stopped her.

When the story hit the news, she had some supporters on social media, and others spewed vitriol. They labeled her a “dope head,” “drug dealer” and “dumb.”

Brittney told Robin she cried because she believed that she had let her father down and tarnished the family name.

After her sentencing of 9 years, she was sent to one of the worst penal colonies in Russia. 50 to 60 women shared one bathroom. The cells were constantly cold and spiders built nets above their bunks. Brittney stated her dreadlocks began to freeze, which subsequently made her sick so she cut her hair.

“You got to do what you got to do to survive,” BG said.

Griner told Robin that she gave her wife, Cherelle Griner, permission to move on. She explained to her spouse that she understood if it was too much to bear. Brittney just asked her if Cherelle would at least be her friend and write her.  Her wife stated she never considered abandoning Brittney.

Griner Gets To Go Home

The U.S. government worked to find a bargain for trade. Russia eventually traded her for arms dealer, Viktor Bout. As she was transported back to the U.S., there was an unexpected stop at a men’s prison. Brittney stated that she assumed the deal fell through. She was forced to strip naked in front of a room full of men. Photos were taken of her. She described it as “one last hoorah of humiliating her.”

Brittney said when she boarded the flight back to America, she was shocked when Paul Whelan, a former marine jailed in Russia for espionage in 2020, wasn’t on the plane. She is now an advocate for Whelan and all U.S. citizens wrongfully held in Russia.

Brittney says she has been called “unpatriotic” and people have made vitriolic comments on social media like “her mom should have strangled her at birth,” but she chooses to focus on those who love her.

She said coming home to her means being “happy,” “at peace,” and “enjoying life.”

Congrats, again, on being home, BG!

RELATED: Brittney Griner Says She Would Never Play Overseas Again Except For This One Reason

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