Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after security guards allegedly found a vape cartridge with cannabis oil.
WASHINGTON – Brittney Griner can’t play with her WNBA teammates. She can’t call them either.
In a bit of normalcy, Griner was able to receive emails and letters from WNBA players during his detention in Russia. Players sent hundreds of emails to an account that Griner’s agent set up to allow them to communicate with her.
It’s not easy: emails are printed and delivered sporadically in groups to Griner by his lawyer after they are reviewed by Russian officials. Griner does not have access to the email account; she will write an answer on paper and her lawyers will take a picture of her or dictate an answer if she has no paper.
Los Angeles Sparks forward Amanda Zahui B. never thought she would receive a response from Griner when she emailed Phoenix Mercury Center a few months ago.
“When she answered my second letter she left me stunned,” Zahui B said. “I was like she answered !! In my third letter, I said, ‘Hey, best friend, now we’re officially best friends.’
Like so many WNBA players, Zahui B. wanted Griner to know that he was thinking about her as the two-time Olympic gold medalist remains, in the opinion of U.S. officials, unjustly detained in Russia.
Griner was detained for 105 days after cannabis oil vape cartridges were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.
When Zahui B. received her first response from Griner she made her smile and promised herself that she would send more notes. And she has, sending them every few weeks. They also have many other players.
“We just don’t want her to think she’s forgotten,” Liberty center Stefanie Dolson said.
It’s not just about sending emails to Griner; Diana Taurasi sent a handwritten letter to her Mercury and Olympic teammate.
Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the cards were a way for the 6-foot-9 center to stay connected with her WNBA family.
Some players only offer hopes and prayers for Griner’s release and say they are thinking about it. Others send Sudoku puzzles or more personal notes.
“She jokes in her letters. I don’t know how she does it with what’s going on. She’s an amazing soul,” Zahui B said. “She brings light in a situation like this. I don’t think a lot of people can do that.”
Zahui B., who jokingly admitted that he tends to ramble, sent Griner updates on his daily activities describing such mundane things as getting his nails done or what he ate for lunch.
She wasn’t very close to Griner when they both played in the WNBA and in Europe, but over time she got to know her better. Griner sent a video to Zahui B’s mother offering support when she was battling breast cancer and another for her 60th birthday a few years ago.
Griner, who last responded to the Sparks player last week, signed him “From 42 to 42” when Zahui B. told him he was changing his number to 42 in honor of the center.
While writing letters was a natural thing for Zahui B., other players say it’s hard to find the words to put the pen on paper.
Griner faces drug trafficking charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Another American considered unjustly detained in Russia is Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive. Whelan was arrested in December 2018 while visiting for a friend’s wedding and later sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges that his family said are unfounded.
Veteran Marine Trevor Reed, who was also jailed in Russia for nearly three years, was released in late April as part of an unexpected prisoner exchange involving a Russian drug trafficker sentenced to a long sentence in the United States.
Last month, the Biden administration said Griner, 31, was being unfairly detained. In May, his detention lasted another month until at least mid-June.
“It’s hard. It’s so sensitive and you don’t mean bad,” Mystics forward Elizabeth Williams said. “It’s also a sad situation and you don’t want to be reminded of it. I think at the end of the day he’s happy to hear anything from anyone. “
Williams said the union sends text messages every two weeks to remind WNBA players that they can contact Griner via the email account. At this time, the account is not open to the public in an effort to keep it manageable.
Sandy Brondello of New York Liberty, who coached Griner in Phoenix for nine seasons, has just learned of the possibility of sending an email to his former player a few days ago.
“I’m going to tell her that I love her and that I’m thinking about her,” one emotional Brondello said. “That’s my girl, she’s terrible. She’s been there too long.”
Brittney Griner News: Basketball player receiving, sending emails
Source link Brittney Griner News: Basketball player receiving, sending emails