By Dorothy J. Gentry
Brittney Griner is being flown to a military medical facility in San Antonio as she begins preparation to return home, according to reports.
The WNBA star and Houston native was freed Thursday in a prisoner swap with the U.S. releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. She had been detained in Russia for 294 days since her arrest in February on drug charges.
New station CNBC was the first to report on Griner’s expected arrival at Brooke Army Medical Center’s reintegration facility.
Per reports, a State Department spokesman said Thursday afternoon: “The U.S government is focused on ensuring Brittney Griner’s and her family’s well-being is prioritized and that all assistance available be offered in an appropriate manner. Due to privacy reasons, and out of respect for the family, we do not have anything additional to provide.”
Finally Freed – Reaction
News broke early Thursday morning of the release of Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and has won gold medals as part of the USA Olympic Basketball team.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” President Joe Biden said from the White House, where he was accompanied by Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, and administration officials.
Griner also spoke and during the press conference stating with a smile: “Today my family is whole again.”
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that “BG” – as she is affectionately known – has never been out of their thoughts or minds over the past months.
“There has not been a day over the past ten months where we all haven’t had Brittney Griner on our minds and in our hearts,” Engelbert said. “That has now turned into a collective wave of joy and relief knowing that she will soon be reunited with her family, the WNBA player community, and her friends.”
Engelbert also thanked the media and fans for their coverage and relentless support in keeping Griner’s name and story on the forefront.
“I want to thank you, the media, for keeping BG at the top of your coverage because that was helpful. And to the WNBA fans as well who continued to advocate for BG in getting her home,” she said.
“It’s a great day and we look forward to BG having her time and space and recovering from this whole ordeal, awful ordeal. She’s a star, one of the greatest players ever to play the game. So I think the efforts of everybody have been helpful. The support has been helpful. The voices have been helpful.”
Griner’s team, the Phoenix Mercury where she has played since being drafted No. 1 overall out of Baylor University in 2013, also released a statement on the release of their beloved star player that read in part:
Miraculously, mercifully, the count of days detained has ended at 294, and our friend, our sister is headed back home where she belongs. The emotions for our organization, just like for our fans and so many across the world, are those of joyous celebration, deep gratitude, grief for the time lost, and sincere hope for all families still awaiting the return of a loved one.
BG’s strength in this process, her unwavering belief that resolution would come, and the hope she displayed every day is what kept all of us believing this day would come.
The fight to bring her home has illustrated the power of the WNBA, its players, platform, and mission. We no longer have to Bring BG Home – she’s on her way.
Stay tuned to Texas Metro News for more on this breaking, developing story.