Megan Rapino pays tribute to Britney Griner by receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom

“The most important part of the day… BG, we love you,” Rapino said in an Instagram story, along with a close-up of the embroidery detail.

Griner has been held in Russia since February on charges of drug smuggling and is officially classified as “wrongfully detained,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said. told CNN in May.
On Thursday, the same day Rapino received her Freedom Medal, Griner pleaded guilty on drug charges in a Russian court.

Supporters of the Phoenix Mercury star have called for her release over fears she is being used as a political pawn amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a sentiment shared by Rapino.

“BG is being used as a political pawn and we need to bring her home. [sic] immediately,” she wrote in an Instagram story.

“This statement does not change the fact that @potus needs it and is working hard to bring her home. It is my understanding that she had to request that the process of her return home be continued as soon as possible. BG, we are with you.”

Some have speculated that Griner could be released and returned to the US in exchange for prisoners, as was the case with Trevor Reed, an American veteran who was detained in Russia for three years before being released in April. In Griner’s case, there is no indication that such an exchange is imminent.

However, prior to any potential prisoner swap, Griner was expected to be convicted and plead guilty, a senior US official told CNN. According to the official, Reed had to sign a document stating his guilt — something he resisted for almost the entire duration of his detention — just days before he was released.

“This is part of the show and the document has no legal force or effect in the US. It’s virtually meaningless,” Reid family spokesman Jonathan Franks said.

Rapino’s role in the fight for equality

Rapino received the Medal of Freedom along with 16 other recipients, including Olympic athlete Simone Biles.

In a speech introducing the star football player, President Joe Biden praised Rapino’s role in ensuring equal pay for the women’s team and her advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights.

“I am honored to be selected by President Biden to present this award and I feel more than ever inspired and motivated to continue this long history of fighting for the freedoms of all people,” Rapino said in a statement.

“To quote Emma Lazarus: “Until we are all free, none of us is free.”

CNN’s Megan Vasquez, Karen Smith and Dakin Andone contributed to the story.