Big names across the sports world and beyond share reactions to Brittney Griner's 9-year prison sentence

·8 min read
Brittney Griner.
Brittney Griner holds a photo of 2022 WNBA All-Stars wearing her name and number on their jerseys.Dmitry Serebryakov/AP Photo
  • Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced to 9 years in Russian prison.

  • The WNBA star was arrested in February after Moscow airport officials found cannabis in her luggage.

  • From top athletes to musicians and politicians, here's how the world has reacted to Griner's sentence.

Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison over drug-smuggling charges for carrying vape cartridges in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

The WNBA superstar's trial came to a close Thursday, with the judge handing down a guilty verdict along with her heavy sentence. Griner has been detained in Russian jail since February, when she was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport after customs agents discovered vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage.

Brittney Griner
Griner is escorted from a court room after her last words, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia.AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Over the month of July, Griner and her legal team have appealed for leniency after she admitted wrongdoing and pleaded guilty to the charges against her. Though the defense made the case that Griner inadvertently brought the drugs in her luggage and that she had been prescribed medical marijuana back in the US, the two-time Olympic gold medalist received a near-maximum sentence and now faces the prospect of spending almost a decade at a Russian penal colony.

The jarring outcome evoked reactions from across the sports ecosystem and beyond. From basketball and football stars to politicians and musicians, here's how the world responded to Griner's plight:

President Joe Biden was quick to issue a statement slamming the Russian judge's ruling, calling on Russia to "release her immediately."

 

President Biden calls on Russia to release Brittney Griner immediately after the WNBA star was sentenced to 9 years in prison

And Vice President Kamala Harris offered a note emphasizing that the administration is "working every day to reunite Brittney, as well as Paul Whelan, with loved ones."

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Griner's verdict and sentencing "spotlights our concerns with the Russian government's use of wrongful detentions."

 

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she "will continue to support the Administration" as it fights to bring Griner and other wrongfully detained Americans back home.

 

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen called the decision "a miscarriage of justice."

 

And Senator Ted Cruz, from Griner's native Texas, said he was "disappointed and deeply concerned" by the outcome of Thursday's hearing.

 

Her Phoenix Mercury teammate, star point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, tweeted that the verdict and sentencing were "Bullshit!"

 

While Mercury forward Brianna Turner took the moment to share "how much light [Griner] brought to everyone around her."

 

Phoenix guard Kia Nurse said "we love you and miss you BG."

 

And while watching Griner's final court appearance, Mercury wing Diamond DeShields said seeing her teammate "behind these bars is breaking my heart."

 

2020 WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson kept her message simple and effective:

 

Chicago Sky star Kahleah Copper said the same:

 

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving asked the White House for an update on "our Queen."

 

While Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum offered some prayers.

 

NBA journeyman Isaiah Thomas did, too:

 

Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo was astounded by the length of Griner's sentence.

 

As was Celtics forward Grant Williams.

 

And Denver Nuggets point guard Bones Hyland.

 

Budding NBA superstar Ja Morant shared a simple message that got straight to the point:

 

And his Memphis Grizzlies teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., repeated it a few times for good measure:

 

2022 NBA draftee Jaden Ivey, whose mother played in the WNBA, offered support for the league's superstar:

 

As did Orlando Magic guard RJ Hampton:

 

NBA star-turned-ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins said Griner's situation "ain't right."

 

And his ESPN colleague, Mina Kimes, called Griner's predicament — as well as some as the hateful comments surrounding her struggle — "heartbreaking all around."

 

Turner Sports' Taylor Rooks said she's praying "that these negotiations happen quickly" to secure Griner's return.

 

Former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III chimed in, too:

 

Former NFL safety Ryan Clark said "I feel for BG" and that he "can't imagine what she's been through."

 

Rapper Meek Mill offered a "Free BG" and lobbied his followers to "fight for her!!!!!!!"

 

And 50 Cent said "this is wild."

 

Even Justin Bieber offered Griner support on his Instagram story.

Justin Bieber offers support to Brittney Griner.
Justin Bieber/Instagram

Famed American triathlete Chris Mosier said he was "sending love" to Griner's loved ones, and also told fellow athletes they should be "paying attention" to what's happening in her case.

 

 

WNBA legend Dawn Staley — who was head coach of the USA Basketball squad featuring Griner that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics — promised that "we will not stop advocating for [your] release."

 

2021 WNBA All-Star Game MVP Arike Ogunbowale called the decision "sickening."

 

And Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas sent her love.

 

Minnesota Lynx star Aerial Powers was shocked by the nine-year sentence.

 

And WNBA great Swin Cash said her heart is "heavy."

 

Fellow league legend Tamika Catchings kept Griner in mind, too.

 

And tennis icon Billie Jean King asked that everyone "continue to use your platforms to call for her release."

 

Connecticut Sun guard Dijonai Carrington said she's "praying so hard for BG."

 

And Los Angeles Sparks point guard Jordin Canada expressed her own heartbreak.

 

As did her teammate, sharpshooter Lexie Brown:

 

 

And Seattle Storm superstar Jewell Loyd.

 

And 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere.

 

Dallas Wings star Isabelle Harrington said Griner's "sentence is some bullshit."

 

While 2022 WNBA Commissioner's Cup MVP Chelsea Gray offered BG some love.

 

Seattle Storm superstar Breanna Stewart said "it is time for her to come home," as she has every day for several months.

 

New York Liberty center Stefanie Dolson wrote "this can't be real!"

 

And Indiana Fever star Danielle Robinson said she's "thinking and praying" for Griner.

 

WNBA free agent Layshia Clarendon said they're thinking of BG "more than ever."

 

And Atlanta Dream star Erica Wheeler called her "our sister."

 

Paige Bueckers, a college superstar for the UConn Huskies, chimed in as well.

 

USA Basketball issued a statement shortly after the verdict came down.

 

And the NBA and WNBA commissioners said the leagues' "commitment to her safe return has not wavered."

 

While the Phoenix Mercury asserted that "we will not allow her to be forgotten."

 

The WNBPA called the sentence "unjust" and "a terrible blow."

 

Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa-Colas, wasn't shy about saying Griner "is being used as a political pawn."

 

And Rev. Al Sharpton lobbied "faith leaders to pray over [the] detained WNBA star."

 

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