This morning Cherelle Griner gave her first interview since her wife, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, was wrongfully detained in Russia. Speaking to Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, from her and Brittney’s home, Cherelle said that she’s had sporadic written letters from Griner, but no real-time contact with her since her phone was confiscated at the airport where Russian officials took her into custody 97 days ago, claiming that she had hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. Griner is being charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs,” which carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
Cherelle told Roberts that Brittney wrote her one letter that said, “Babe, I know you wanna go down right now but like, don’t just yet.”
“I won’t go down until she’s back,” Cherelle said. “Every single day matters for me to be sound, for me to be alert, for me to be attentive, to make sure that she comes back.”
Cherelle’s interview comes as the WNBA begins to apply more political pressure to bring Griner home. Early reports suggested that Griner’s family, friends, teammates, coaches, and the league as a whole were advised to keep her arrest quiet out of fear that Griner would become a political pawn in the United States and Russia’s deteriorating relationship. However, when the U.S. reclassified her as “wrongfully detained” on May 3rd, and Griner’s lawyer announced that her pre-trial detention had been extended by a month on May 13th, the league immediately ramped up their efforts. Photos were released of Griner in handcuffs refusing to show her face, which only increased concern for her well-being.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Cherelle the weekend the U.S. reclassified her, and while Cherelle says she’s thankful he reached out and assured her Brittney was a “top priority,” she really wants to speak to President Biden.
“I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. She’s a political pawn,” she told Roberts. “So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”
As current and former WNBA players continue to use their voices on social media, in press conferences and interviews, and even in their pre-game fashion to keep Griner at the forefront of everyone’s minds, Congresspeople Sheila Jackson Lee, Colin Allred, and Greg Stanton have introduced a House resolution calling for her immediate release. In addition to promoting the hashtag #WeAreBG, the WNBA has added decals with Griner’s initials and jersey number to every floor in the league, which Cherelle says she knows means a lot to her wife.
“Things like that matter, like, it has her hopeful,” Cherelle said. “It lets her know she’s not forgotten.”
We are — as we have been every day since we learned of Griner’s unjust arrest — wrapping her in our love and advocating for her safe and immediate return home. She will never be forgotten.
"Every single day matters … to make sure that she comes back."
Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, who has been detained in a Russian prison for nearly 100 days, speaks to @robinroberts about the fight to bring her home. https://t.co/A7bpCs5jQp pic.twitter.com/Yv8GFk5hfW
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 25, 2022