Basketball star sentenced to nine years for drug possession

Britney Griner – the world’s greatest basketball player, Olympic legend and LGBT trailblazer – may now lose the best years of her career in a Russian penitentiary.

The 31-year-old American woman was convicted on Thursday in a Russian court on drug charges and sentenced to nine years in prison, despite US officials saying she was wrongfully detained and working behind the scenes to free her.

Griner is among 11 players to have won an Olympic gold medal, a WNBA title, a Women’s Basketball World Championship crown, and a U.S. College Championship.

She helped the US women’s national team win Olympic gold in 2016 in Rio and last year in Tokyo, giving the Americans seven consecutive Olympic crowns – equaling the US men’s team from 1936-1968 for the longest title win of any team in any Olympic event. sports. .

In February 2013, Griner publicly admitted to being a lesbian in an interview with

illustrated by becoming a sports trailblazer.

“I’m just trying to help,” Griner told People magazine at the time. “I’m just trying to make it not so difficult for the next generation.”

Her advertising contract with Nike was her first contract with an openly gay athlete.

Griner protested against the killing of African Americans Breonna Taylor and George Floyd during a nationwide wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the US in 2020 and suggested not playing the US anthem before games.

A champion at all levels of basketball, she played for many years in Russia in the WNBA off-season for Yekaterinburg, a common path for American stars looking for extra income, with WNBA salaries much lower than those of NBA superstars.

She has won three Russian championships and four Euroleague championships with a strong club.

“Hopefully I don’t have to travel overseas to play,” Griner said in 2019 when asked what she thought life would be like in 2024.

“Hopefully I can stay here and play here in the league at home with my family, my friends. I hope we get paid what we deserve. We often put our body in danger. So I think that’s our number one thing.”

But the future may look very different now, after she was detained at a Moscow airport in February after finding cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage.

The WNBA star said she has permission from an American doctor to use medicinal cannabis to ease the pain of her multiple injuries.

The Americans will compete for a fourth consecutive Women’s World Cup crown later this year in Australia. Griner was expected to be a key player in this team as it was on the 2014 and 2018 roster.

American women have not lost a single game in the Olympics since 1992 and have not lost a single game in the World Championship, the World Cup, since 2006.

– record holder –

The six-foot-nine center was born in Houston and led Baylor University to a U.S. college title in 2012.

She set a record with 223 blocks in her 2009-10 freshman season and finished with a career-high 748 blocks in her college career.

She was selected with the first overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury and helped the team win the 2014 WNBA crown.

The eight-time WNBA All-Star center has won scoring titles in 2017 and 2019, led the league in blocks in eight of his nine campaigns, and was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year twice.

“I think sometimes we take for granted how amazing she is,” US and Phoenix teammate Diana Taurasi said of Griner in last year’s WNBA Finals when the Mercury lost to Chicago. “We know who our bread and butter is. BG is just playing on a different level.”

In the 2015 season, Griner averaged 4.0 blocks per game, a WNBA record.

During her WNBA career, Griner averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.8 assists per game in 254 contests, all for the Mercury.

Greener married fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson in 2015 but later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and underwent domestic violence counseling.

Both Griner and Johnson were suspended by the WNBA for seven games, and the couple divorced in 2016.

Griner married Sherelle Watson in 2019.