Brittney Griner swears off playing ball overseas in first media availability since detainment

Phoenix, Arizona - WNBA player Brittney Griner spoke to the media for the first time since her prisoner exchange took place in December, and the athlete shared insight into her detainment, why some decide to play ball overseas, and the sole reason she'd return.

Brittney Griner has vowed to only play ball overseas if she's representing Team USA at the Olympics.
Brittney Griner has vowed to only play ball overseas if she's representing Team USA at the Olympics.  © Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Things got emotional when Griner spoke to the media on Thursday, marking the first time the WNBA athlete has since she returned to the US by way of a prisoner exchange after she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for having a vape pen in her bag.

As she entered the press conference at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Griner noted it was "a little different than a basketball press conference," before smiling. "Thank you all for covering me and all the exposure you gave me and my family to get me home."

When asked how she endured her time while being detained in Russia, Griner responded, "I'm no stranger to hard times," before tearing up. "Just digging deep, honestly. you're gonna be faced with adversities throughout your life, this was a pretty big one.

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"I relied on my hard work to get me through it ... you find a way to grind it out," Griner shared.

"It's so easy to feel forgotten, to feel like no one is thinking of you," she said before reiterating her commitment to bringing home others who have been wrongfully detained overseas. "It's hard. I come from a military family … I have that mindset, no man left behind. … It hurts because no one should be in those conditions that I went through or that they are going through."

She continued: "We're not going to stop fighting and we are not going to stop bringing awareness to everyone that's left behind right now."

Brittney Griner vows to only play ball overseas if the Olympics are involved

When asked if she'll ever return overseas to play ball, Griner responded, "I’m never going overseas to play again unless I’m representing my country at the Olympics."

She also touched on the reason many female athletes go overseas in the first place: "The whole reason a lot of us go [overseas] is the pay gap. A lot of us go over there to make an income to support our families, and to support ourselves, so I don't knock any player that wants to go overseas."

"I'm hoping our league continues to grow and with as many people in here right now covering this. I hope you continue, like I said, to cover our league, bring exposure to us," Griner added.

Following her release and return to the US, Griner signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury.

Cover photo: Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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