‘I felt like leaving so badly’: Brittney Griner considered suicide in Russian prison | Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner said she considered suicide during her first weeks in a Russian prison after her 2022 arrest on drug charges.

The WNBA star spoke for the first time about her months-long detention in Russia during an ABC interview broadcast Wednesday night in the United States. Her memoir, Coming Home, will be published on May 7.

Griner was arrested in February 2022 at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

“I wanted to kill myself more than once in the first few weeks,” Griner told ABC. “I wanted to get out of here so bad.” She decided against it, in part because she feared Russian authorities would not return his body to his family.

Griner said she packaged the cannabis oil by mistake due to a “mental lapse,” similar to misplacing car keys but on “a larger scale.”

The 33-year-old said she was shocked by the conditions in her first prison, known as IK-1. Griner, who is 6 feet 9 inches tall, said her height made it even more uncomfortable. “The mattress had a huge blood stain on it. They give you these two thin sheets, so you basically lie on bars,” she said. “The middle of my shin down to my feet went through the bars, which – in prison you don’t really want to put your leg and your arm through the bars, because someone comes up and grab it, twist it, break it and that’s it. crossed my mind.

Griner said she received one roll of toilet paper a month and toothpaste that was more than a decade old — she used it to clean mold from the walls of her cells. She also said that a fellow inmate, Alana, helped her get through her ordeal. Griner was well known in Russia before her arrest and had won several national titles with UMMC Ekaterinburg. She was known to her fellow inmates as “the American girl” and “the basketball player.”

Griner said her second prison, IK-2, was a harsh labor camp where she had to cut her hair due to harsh conditions. “We had spiders above my bed making nests,” she said. “My dreads started to freeze. They would just stay wet and cold and I would get so sick. You have to do what you have to do to survive.

His fate came to light when Russia invaded Ukraine, and his detention further increased tensions between Russia and the United States. She was released in December 2022 after the United States arranged a prisoner exchange involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner said that before she was released, she was forced to write a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “They made me write this letter. It was in Russian,” she said. “I had to ask for forgiveness and thanks from their so-called great leader. I didn’t want to do it, but at the same time I wanted to go home.

She was disappointed to learn that Paul Whelan, another American detained in Russia, was not with her when she boarded her plane home. “I kept going and didn’t see (Walker), maybe he’s next. Maybe they’ll bring him next,” she said. “They closed the door and I was like, are you serious? You’re not going to let this man come home now?

Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury and is considered one of the best players of the modern era – she is a nine-time WNBA All-Star and won two Olympic gold medals with Team USA. The WNBA season begins May 14.

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