AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Friends, family and supporters of Brittney Griner are fighting to get her home.
On Friday, a press conference asking for the athlete’s return was held in Chicago. Among the speakers were Brittney’s wife Cherelle, the president of the WNBA players’ association, Nneka Ogwumike, Rev. Al Sharpton, Seattle Storm star Sue Bird and union leader Terri Jackson, Sports Illustrated reports.
Ogwumike, who is an All-Star forward for the Los Angeles Sparks, said Brittney, 31, “is an American hero.” She continued, “She is ours and she is yours, and we must get her home her.”
Cherelle, who has been vocal about not keeping quiet until her wife returns home, said she understands that what the government is attempting to do is “very challenging due to the circumstance.” She explained, “So I want to make it very clear that our next move as supporters for BG is to make sure that the administration understands that they have our full support in doing any and everything necessary to be able to bring BG home as well as every other wrongfully detained American.”
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Earlier this week, President Joe Biden called Cherelle to reassure her of the government’s efforts to bring the WNBA star home.
“I believe every word that she said to him, he understood and he sees her as a person,” Cherelle said at the conference. “And he has not forgotten her, which was her her biggest cry her in her letter her,” she added, referring to the handwritten letter Brittney wrote to Biden on Monday.
Cherelle continued, “I’m grateful and I’m thankful that the administration that was the first one that BG ever voted for, took the time to see her as a person, to see her in the midst of what she’s going through and to speak to me directly and let her know that they are exhausting all efforts to bring her home.”
Brittney, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at Russia’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February after vape cartridges containing hash oil were painstakingly found by authorities in her luggage.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh Nneka Ogwumike speaks at a news conference in Chicago, Friday
Rev. Al Sharpton, who recently interviewed Cherelle on his show, said Brittney is being “transported in vehicles too small for her frame.” Sharpton added that she is “in a place where most of the people … ca n’t speak her language. I think she’s already done a lot of time given what we ‘re talking about was the infraction.”
“BG has taken accountability, and now it is time — past time — for this to come to a conclusion,” Jackson said in her own remarks.
“Sanctity of sport is important, and as an athlete community made up of friends from countries around the world, we all feel rattled by this, and just want her home,” added Bird.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a news conference in Chicago, Friday
On Wednesday, teammates, supporters and Cherelle held a “Bring BG Home” rally at the WNBA team’s Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix, with many wearing “We are BG” shirts as they continued to push for the player’s release.
Cherelle also expressed her unhappiness about how Griner’s case has been handled by the justice system since she was detained.
“What and how I feel today is a deeper emotion than hurt,” she told the crowd. “I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that 140 days have passed since my wife has been able to speak to me, to our family and our friends. I’m frustrated my wife is not going to get justice. I know you all are frustrated, too. That’s why you’re here.”
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Christian Petersen/Getty Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, speaks during a rally.
Griner’s teammates also expressed why it is so important for the basketball star to return to the United States.
“To know BG is to know such a kind spirit, such a nice person, and such a giver,” Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner, 26, shared with the audience. “We need to get her back home. She deserves to be home. She needs to be back with her family her, with her friends her. We are BG and bring BG home.”
Turner added that she wrote a letter to Griner and received a response the day of the rally, with Griner writing in part that she missed simple things like “bonding outside the court” with her teammate.
RELATED: Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Russian Drug Charges: ‘I Did Not Want to Break the Law’
Christian Petersen/Getty Rally Held For Phoenix Mercury Player Brittney Griner Detained In Russia
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The Phoenix event took place before Griner pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of smuggling drugs into Russia, NPR reported.
The WNBA star said that she did bring cannabis products into the country — where it is considered illegal — but that she was packing quickly and did not mean to break the law, saying she did so “inadvertently.”
“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner, who pointedly held up a photo of herself and her wife Cherelle as she walked into court, said , according to Reuters.
“I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare,” she added.
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Griner faces up to 10 years in prison. Despite her guilty plea, Griner’s trial is expected to continue for several weeks or months.
Brittney’s trial will adjourn on July 14.