Who is Britney Griner? What we know about his arrest in Russia

Brittney Griner, WNBA star and central player for Phoenix Mercury since 2013, is in the custody of Russian authorities, USA TODAY learned on Saturday.

Griner faces drug trafficking charges after she was found with vape cartridges in her carry-on luggage at a Moscow airport in February.

The Russian Federal Customs Service announced on Saturday that a two-time Olympic basketball champion and member of the United States National Basketball Association had been arrested for transporting canisters of cannabis-derived oil, which could lead to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The player has been identified as Griner by Russian media outlet TASS.

“We are aware of Brittney Griner’s situation in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, the WNBA and the NBA,” Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said. . “As this is an ongoing legal case, we are unable to comment further on the specifics of her case, but we can confirm that, as we strive to bring her home, her mental health and physics remains our main concern.”

The Mercury and USA Basketball said they are monitoring the situation with Griner.

“Our primary concern is his safety, his physical and mental health and his safe return home,” the Mercury said.

Britney Griner: Mental health counseling ‘does wonders’ for Phoenix Mercury star

Who is Britney Griner?

Griner played nine WNBA seasons with the Mercury, where she was named All-Star seven times. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA leading scorer.

She leads the league in career blocks average and has records for single-game and single-season blocks.

In addition to playing for the Mercury, the 6-foot-9 star has played for Russian side Yekaterinburg UMMC during the WNBA offseason since 2015, which has been a chance for Griner to cash in on the high salaries. foreign teams.

She earned up to $1.5 million a year in Russia, up from a base salary of $215,000 last season for the Mercury.

What was Griner doing in Russia?

Griner was among several WNBA players who had joined the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League This winter.

Many were stranded in Moscow as Russian airlines canceled international flights due to airspace restrictions imposed by other countries, including the United States.

The WNBA said in a Feb. 24 statement that the league is in contact with the players and their agents in Russia and will continue to monitor the situation closely as diplomatic tensions continue to rise between the United States and Russia after the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

The few players who competed in Ukraine have left the country, the WNBA said.

Republic reporters Jenna Ortiz and Jeff Metcalfe, and USA TODAY reporter Scooby Axson contributed to this article.

Contact breaking news reporter Laura Daniella Sepulveda at lsepulveda@lavozarizona.com or on Twitter @lauradNews.

Support local journalism.Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

Comments are closed.