Earlier this fall, WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in Russia on drug possession charges, and just last week, her appeal of that sentencing was denied. Since she was first detained in the country in February, the American government and various human rights organizations have been working round the clock in an effort to bring her home. But nobody has fought harder on her behalf than Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner.
Speaking to the attendees at Glamour’s 2022 Women of the Year ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, November 1, Cherelle described the months of uncertainty and despair she’s faced while hoping for news of her wife’s safe return.
“I’ve spent the last eight months riding waves of grief and to be honest, just total disbelief,” she told guests, which included Women of the Year Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Shannon Watts, and the Haim sisters. “I can’t believe that I’m standing in front of you guys today and living without with my favorite person, my greatest love, my sanctuary.”
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Cherelle added that despite her wife’s strength, “She is 100% not okay, and there is little I can do to ease her pain. But I believe from the bottom of my heart that while I can’t bring her back, words can make a difference.” She then encouraged guests and viewers alike to write a note to Brittney as a show of support for the 32-year-old basketball star, either by visiting weareBG.org or by using the hashtag #WeAreBG. She also shared her own recent message to her wife:
“Babe, I’m missing everything about you. Especially your friendship. I took for granted being able to talk with you. I catch myself picking up my phone, only to sit it back down because your voice is the only voice I want to hear. It’s giving, I’ll likely talk your ear off once you’re home,” she said. “I know your heart is heavy right now babe. I wish you were here to feel all the love that surrounds you. You are not forgotten. So, keep your head up champ. This too shall pass! I love you and I cannot wait for the day that I get to embrace you! Love, Relle.”
Brittney had been playing basketball in Russia during the WNBA off-season as a means of supplementing her income. Many of her colleagues, including league MVPs Jonquel Jones and Diana Taurasi, have also played in Russia, where they are better compensated than in the US. As pointed out by Glamour editor in chief Samantha Barry, “Gender pay gap is a root problem here.”
Added Cherelle, “Love—it will save the day.”
To share a note of support for Brittney Griner, visit weareBG.org. This story first appeared in Glamour.