Free of a Russian penal colony and again on American soil, WNBA star Brittney Griner bought her first style of a return to regular life over the weekend at a Texas navy facility.
The Olympic gold medalist arrived Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and is now staying along with her spouse, Cherelle Griner, in a residential setting on the bottom – one her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, embellished with a Christmas tree.
Griner, 32, is “upbeat, grateful and hopeful,” Colas informed Ghie News, after returning to the states from what US officers deemed wrongful detention in Russia.
For Griner – who spent practically 10 months in Russian custody – “regular” has meant indulging in her favorites, together with a Dr Pepper soda, the primary drink she had within the airplane hangar after touchdown.
Griner’s relations even have visited her on and off for hours, bringing San Antonio barbecue for her to get pleasure from.
The athlete has been consuming way more nutritious meals and dietary supplements in contrast along with her time in detention, Colas stated. “Her power stage was actually excessive,” she added.
Griner additionally bought a haircut to scrub up her “Russian fade,” as her family and friends jokingly name it, Colas stated. Griner’s lengthy, signature deadlocks had been reduce whereas in captivity as she constantly battled the flu as a result of her moist hair saved freezing, Colas stated.
On the Texas navy base, Griner hit the basketball courtroom for the primary time since she was imprisoned: Her first transfer was a dunk. Months in the past, in pre-trial detention in Russia, Griner was supplied a basketball and a hoop, however she declined to play, Colas stated.
“I believe it’s honest to say that her selecting up a ball voluntarily and the very first thing being a dunk … it was actually encouraging,” Colas stated. “She was actually excited.”
Griner appears to be in good bodily well being, however whether or not she returns to the WNBA within the spring season will likely be as much as her, in keeping with Colas.
“Is she going to be prepared? We’ll see,” Colas stated.
Griner arrived on the San Antonio medical facility for a ordinary evaluation after her release Thursday as a part of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia for infamous convicted palms vendor Viktor Bout.
Considerations had grown that Griner changed into being used as a political pawn amid Russia’s warfare on Ukraine after she become arrested on drug fees in February at an airport in Russia, the area she plays basketball within the WNBA off-season, then later sentenced to 9 years in jail.
Now, Griner’s focus will likely be on recuperating, together with getting bodily and psychological help from the federal government to assist along with her reintegration.
“She’s had a number of psychological help,” Colas stated. “The sources are very strong. It’s very supportive and really BG-centered. It’s about her creating company.”
That care is closely centered on serving to previously captive individuals regain a way of management over their lives after prolonged detentions. Griner opted into the Division of Protection’s post-isolation program, which different wrongfully detained Individuals, including Trevor Reed, have participated in, Colas stated; Reed is former Marine launched in April after three years of wrongful detention in Russia.
It’s not clear how lengthy Griner and her spouse will keep in San Antonio, however the resolution is hers, Colas stated.
However what’s change into clear is that “regular” will at all times look completely different after the ordeal Griner went via. For safety causes, as an illustration, the Griners have already begun the method of discovering a brand new residence, Colas stated.
Although it stays unknown if followers will see Griner again on the basketball courtroom in Could, one factor is for certain, Colas stated: Griner is raring to make use of her energy and affect to assist others – particularly Paul Whelan, one other American nonetheless imprisoned in Russia.
“It was one of many first issues she requested me about,” Colas stated. “She’s very, very involved about that. And will likely be sending a message to Paul.”
Whelan already despatched a message via US representatives who spoke with him in current days: “Please inform Brittney that Paul stated he’s comfortable she’s residence,” he informed her, in keeping with Colas.
“She is totally enthusiastic about the longer term,” Colas stated. “She’s already speaking concerning the place that she’s now in to assist different individuals come residence.”
Whelan – a US, Irish, British and Canadian citizen – is imprisoned in a Russian penal colony after he was arrested in December 2018 on espionage expenses, which he has denied. He was sentenced to 16 years in jail. He, like Griner, has been declared wrongfully detained by US officers.
The US tried to influence Russia to swap each Griner and Whelan for arms seller Bout, however Russian officers wouldn’t budge on the matter, with Russia saying each of the Individuals’ instances had been dealt with otherwise based mostly on the costs every of them confronted.