Brittney Griner Recounts Harrowing Experience in Russian Prison: “Less Than Human”

Brittney Griner, the acclaimed American basketball star, has opened up about her harrowing ordeal during her 10-month imprisonment in a Russian prison, describing her experience as feeling “less than human.”

The 33-year-old, who spent time in Russian custody for possessing cannabis oil, revealed the deplorable conditions she endured while detained. Speaking to American broadcaster ABC, Griner recounted the squalid environment of her cell, marked by filth, grime, and dilapidated facilities.

“When we walk into the cell, there’s a bathroom… just filth,” Griner recounted, describing the unsanitary conditions she faced. “That was the moment where I just felt the dirtiest and less than a human.”

Griner’s journey into the Russian penal system began when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February 2022 while playing in the Russian Premier League. Despite pleading guilty to the charges, she was sentenced to nine years in prison and sent to a penal colony. Her release came as part of a high-profile prisoner exchange between the US and Russia in December 2022.

Reflecting on her arrest, Griner expressed the overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness she felt. “My whole heart just fell out of my body… ‘my life is over right here’,” she recalled.

During her imprisonment, Griner admitted to grappling with suicidal thoughts, emphasizing the profound emotional toll of her ordeal. Despite enduring immense pressure, including being coerced into writing a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Griner remained resolute in her determination to return home.

Since her release, Griner has vowed not to play overseas unless representing the United States national team. Her return to competitive basketball with the Phoenix Mercury in May 2023 marked a significant milestone in her journey toward recovery and resilience.

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