US politicians and WNBA players are rejoicing the news that Brittney Griner has been released in a prisoner swap with Russia.
Griner, a star player for the Phoenix Mercury, had been detained since mid-February after Russian customs officials said they found trace amounts of cannabis oil in vape cartridges in her bag. She had been in Russia to play during the Women’s National Basketball Association’s off-season, a common practice for WNBA players looking to supplement their salaries which are much lower than those of the men’s league players.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Griner’s teammates and others in the league all weighed in on the news.
Here’s a look at their reactions:
Parsons, an NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys, apologized for an initial tweet in which he expressed disappointment that Paul Whelan, an American who has been detained in Russia for nearly four years, was not included as part of the deal to bring Griner home.
“Wait nah!! We left e marine?!! Hell nah” he wrote.
He later apologized, writing: “I should have been more educated on the topic and not tweeted out of emotion for my family and other who have served.”
My last tweet was no shot at Brittney Griner. I’m super happy she’s back home as she should be. I just have family who have served and it’s crazy to me the President wouldn’t bring him home too. I’m the furthest thing from a trump supporter but I’m not a fan of Biden either.— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) December 8, 2022
then the best outcome was accomplished. I pray Mr. Whelan comes home but am extremely happy for Brittney and her family. I am not too prideful to admit when I’ve made a mistake.— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) December 8, 2022
Vice President Kamala Harris
“While we celebrate Brittney’s homecoming, we remain committed to seeing Paul Whelan released. We will not relent in our efforts until Paul is home with family. We will not stop working to bring home every U.S. citizen wrongfully detained.”
Today, Brittney Griner’s wrongful detention in Russia finally ends and she is on her way home to be reunited with her family. Her release is the product of painstaking negotiations and @POTUS’ commitment to bring home every U.S. citizen wrongfully detained anywhere in the world.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 8, 2022
While we celebrate Brittney’s homecoming, we remain committed to seeing Paul Whelan released. We will not relent in our efforts until Paul is home with family. We will not stop working to bring home every U.S. citizen wrongfully detained.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 8, 2022
Former president Barack Obama
Obama in a statement said he was “grateful for the long-overdue release” of Griner, and gave credit to the Biden administration for the trade. “We’re looking forward to having Brittney back home,” he said
Grateful for the long-overdue release of Brittney Griner today from Russian custody. Kudos to @POTUS and his administration for the difficult diplomatic work involved to make it happen. We’re looking forward to having Brittney back home. https://t.co/G5yKliRoxd— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 8, 2022
“Just in time for the holidays,” fellow Mercury player Brianna Turner noted. “Over 270 days filled with uncertainty and impatience, but hype it was worked out.”
so happy for BG 🏾 just in time for the holidays— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) December 8, 2022
Davis, also a Mercury player, said Griner “endured what no person could possibly imagine.”
Women’s National Basketball Players Association
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, the union for WNBA players, offered a brief reflection. Representatives for the union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Currie, who retired from the Washington Mystics in 2019, thanked people who kept attention on Griner’s plight.
Can't even express the joy I feel that BG is on her way home! Many thanks to all who thought of her, prayed for her, tweeted about Britt, anything!🥺♥️— Monique Currie (@Mocurrie25) December 8, 2022
Brown, the co-founder of the advocacy group Black Voters Matter, highlighted similar work by Black women advocates.
Black women (and millions of others) across the U.S. held prayer calls, organized community actions, reached out to officials, kept pushing the story in the media and MOST importantly we kept believing. Brittney is free! #WeAreBG pic.twitter.com/V7YEHvUqfQ— LaTosha Brown (@MsLaToshaBrown) December 8, 2022
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the trade “just incredibly good news.”