- Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced to 9 years in Russian prison.
- The WNBA star was arrested in February after Moscow airport officials found cannabis in her luggage.
- From top athletes to musicians and politicians, here's how the world has reacted to Griner's sentence.
Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison over drug-smuggling charges for carrying vape cartridges in her luggage at a Moscow airport.
The WNBA superstar's trial came to a close Thursday, with the judge handing down a guilty verdict along with her heavy sentence. Griner has been detained in Russian jail since February, when she was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport after customs agents discovered vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage.
Over the month of July, Griner and her legal team have appealed for leniency after she admitted wrongdoing and pleaded guilty to the charges against her. Though the defense made the case that Griner inadvertently brought the drugs in her luggage and that she had been prescribed medical marijuana back in the US, the two-time Olympic gold medalist received a near-maximum sentence and now faces the prospect of spending almost a decade at a Russian penal colony.
The jarring outcome evoked reactions from across the sports ecosystem and beyond. From basketball and football stars to politicians and musicians, here's how the world responded to Griner's plight:
President Joe Biden was quick to issue a statement slamming the Russian judge's ruling, calling on Russia to "release her immediately."
—ESPN (@espn) August 4, 2022
President Biden calls on Russia to release Brittney Griner immediately after the WNBA star was sentenced to 9 years in prison
And Vice President Kamala Harris offered a note emphasizing that the administration is "working every day to reunite Brittney, as well as Paul Whelan, with loved ones."
—Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 4, 2022
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Griner's verdict and sentencing "spotlights our concerns with the Russian government's use of wrongful detentions."
—Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 4, 2022
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she "will continue to support the Administration" as it fights to bring Griner and other wrongfully detained Americans back home.
—Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 4, 2022
Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen called the decision "a miscarriage of justice."
—Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) August 4, 2022
And Senator Ted Cruz, from Griner's native Texas, said he was "disappointed and deeply concerned" by the outcome of Thursday's hearing.
—Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) August 4, 2022
Her Phoenix Mercury teammate, star point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, tweeted that the verdict and sentencing were "Bullshit!"
—Skylar Diggins-Smith (@SkyDigg4) August 4, 2022
Phoenix guard Kia Nurse said "we love you and miss you BG."
—Kia Nurse (@KayNurse11) August 4, 2022
And while watching Griner's final court appearance, Mercury wing Diamond DeShields said seeing her teammate "behind these bars is breaking my heart."
—Diamond DeShields (@diamonddoesit1) August 4, 2022
2020 WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson kept her message simple and effective:
—A'ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) August 4, 2022
Chicago Sky star Kahleah Copper said the same:
—Kahleah Copper (@kahleahcopper) August 4, 2022
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving asked the White House for an update on "our Queen."
—A11Even (@KyrieIrving) August 4, 2022
While Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum offered some prayers.
—Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) August 4, 2022
NBA journeyman Isaiah Thomas did, too:
—Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) August 4, 2022
Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo was astounded by the length of Griner's sentence.
—13am Adebayo💥 (@Bam1of1) August 4, 2022
As was Celtics forward Grant Williams.
—Grant Williams (@Grant2Will) August 4, 2022
And Denver Nuggets point guard Bones Hyland.
—Bones Hyland (@BizzyBones11) August 4, 2022
And his Memphis Grizzlies teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., repeated it a few times for good measure:
—JJJ (@jarenjacksonjr) August 4, 2022
2022 NBA draftee Jaden Ivey, whose mother played in the WNBA, offered support for the league's superstar:
—Jaden Ivey (@IveyJaden) August 4, 2022
As did Orlando Magic guard RJ Hampton:
—RJ (@RjHampton14) August 4, 2022
NBA star-turned-ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins said Griner's situation "ain't right."
—Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) August 4, 2022
And his ESPN colleague, Mina Kimes, called Griner's predicament — as well as some as the hateful comments surrounding her struggle — "heartbreaking all around."
—Mina Kimes (@minakimes) August 4, 2022
Turner Sports' Taylor Rooks said she's praying "that these negotiations happen quickly" to secure Griner's return.
—Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 4, 2022
Former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III chimed in, too:
—Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 4, 2022
Former NFL safety Ryan Clark said "I feel for BG" and that he "can't imagine what she's been through."
—Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) August 4, 2022
Rapper Meek Mill offered a "Free BG" and lobbied his followers to "fight for her!!!!!!!"
—MeekMill (@MeekMill) August 4, 2022
Even Justin Bieber offered Griner support on his Instagram story.
Famed American triathlete Chris Mosier said he was "sending love" to Griner's loved ones, and also told fellow athletes they should be "paying attention" to what's happening in her case.
—The Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier) August 4, 2022
—The Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier) August 4, 2022
WNBA legend Dawn Staley — who was head coach of the USA Basketball squad featuring Griner that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics — promised that "we will not stop advocating for [your] release."
—dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) August 4, 2022
2021 WNBA All-Star Game MVP Arike Ogunbowale called the decision "sickening."
—Arike Ogunbowale (@Arike_O) August 4, 2022
And Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas sent her love.
—Jasmine Thomas (@jaszthomas) August 4, 2022
Minnesota Lynx star Aerial Powers was shocked by the nine-year sentence.
—LIQUID | Powerzsurge (@aerial_powers23) August 4, 2022
And WNBA great Swin Cash said her heart is "heavy."
—Swin Cash (@SwinCash) August 4, 2022
Fellow league legend Tamika Catchings kept Griner in mind, too.
—Tamika Catchings (@Catchin24) August 4, 2022
And tennis icon Billie Jean King asked that everyone "continue to use your platforms to call for her release."
—Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 4, 2022
Connecticut Sun guard Dijonai Carrington said she's "praying so hard for BG."
—dιjonaι carrιngтon♛ (@DijonaiVictoria) August 4, 2022
And Los Angeles Sparks point guard Jordin Canada expressed her own heartbreak.
—Jordin Canada ✨ (@jordin_canada) August 4, 2022
As did her teammate, sharpshooter Lexie Brown:
—Lexie Brown (@Lexiebrown) August 4, 2022
And Seattle Storm superstar Jewell Loyd.
—Jewell B Loyd (@jewellloyd) August 4, 2022
And 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere.
—michaela onyenwere 🤍 (@monyenwere_) August 4, 2022
Dallas Wings star Isabelle Harrington said Griner's "sentence is some bullshit."
—Isabelle Harrison (@OMG_itsizzyb) August 4, 2022
While 2022 WNBA Commissioner's Cup MVP Chelsea Gray offered BG some love.
—Chelsea Gray (@cgray209) August 4, 2022
Seattle Storm superstar Breanna Stewart said "it is time for her to come home," as she has every day for several months.
—Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) August 4, 2022
New York Liberty center Stefanie Dolson wrote "this can't be real!"
—stefanie dolson (@bigmamastef) August 4, 2022
And Indiana Fever star Danielle Robinson said she's "thinking and praying" for Griner.
—Danielle Robinson (@justDROB) August 4, 2022
WNBA free agent Layshia Clarendon said they're thinking of BG "more than ever."
—Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) August 4, 2022
And Atlanta Dream star Erica Wheeler called her "our sister."
—Erica Wheeler (@EWeezy_For3eezy) August 4, 2022
Paige Bueckers, a college superstar for the UConn Huskies, chimed in as well.
—Paige Bueckers (@paigebueckers1) August 4, 2022
USA Basketball issued a statement shortly after the verdict came down.
—USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 4, 2022
And the NBA and WNBA commissioners said the leagues' "commitment to her safe return has not wavered."
—WNBA (@WNBA) August 4, 2022
While the Phoenix Mercury asserted that "we will not allow her to be forgotten."
—Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 4, 2022
The WNBPA called the sentence "unjust" and "a terrible blow."
—WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) August 4, 2022
Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa-Colas, wasn't shy about saying Griner "is being used as a political pawn."
—Lindsay Kagawa Colas (she/her) (@kagawacolas) August 4, 2022
And Rev. Al Sharpton lobbied "faith leaders to pray over [the] detained WNBA star."
—Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 4, 2022