WNBA star, Brittney Griner is spending time at a medical facility in Texas before she returns to her regular life after nearly 10 months of imprisonment in Russia.
The basketball star who was released Thursday, December 8 as part of a prisoner exchange between the US and Russia for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout – arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas for a routine evaluation early Friday, and officials have not specified how long she will be there.
After release from Russian custody, focus is on providing Brittney Griner and her family additional support, US officials now say.
“I’m understanding that it’s going to be a few more days before she gets out,” Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor, told CNN on Sunday.
Richardson and his center privately work on behalf of families of hostages and detainees.
Griner’s release through the prisoner exchange took months to negotiate and marked an end to months in confinement after the basketball star was arrested on drug charges at a Russian airport in February and then sentenced to nine years in prison.
During her time in prison, Griner had to cut her now-famous dreadlocks to make life easier during the Russian winter, Griner’s Russian lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, told ESPN.
Most of the women in the penal colony worked sewing uniforms, but the 6-foot-9 Olympic gold medalist was too tall to sit at a work table and her hands were too big to manage the sewing, so she carried fabric all day, her attorney said.
Richardson said it’s important to give former detainees like Griner space as they settle into life after their release.
“We’ve got to give them a little space, a little time to readjust because they’ve had a horrendous experience in these Russian prisons,” said Richardson, who also served as US ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration.
Recounting the day Grinner took her trip back home, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who led the mission to conduct the prisoner exchange in the United Arab Emirates, said;
“When she finally got on to the US plane, I said, ‘Brittney, you must have been through a lot over the last 10 months. Here’s your seat. Please feel free to decompress. We’ll give you your space,’” Carstens recalled.
“And she said, ‘Oh no. I’ve been in prison for 10 months now listening to Russian, I want to talk. But first of all, who are these guys?’ And she moved right past me and went to every member on that crew, looked them in the eyes, shook their hands and asked about them and got their names, making a personal connection with them. It was really amazing,” Carstens said.
He described Griner spending 12 hours of an 18-hour flight talking with him “about everything under the sun.”
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