Brittney Griner's Wife Cherelle Says She Fears She'll 'Never' See the Imprisoned WNBA Star Again
By Mekishana Pierre
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Cherelle Griner is holding out hope that she'll be reunited with her wife, imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner, sooner rather than later.
Brittney, whose trial began last week, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after Russia claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage. A Russian judge ordered Brittney, the Phoenix Mercury center who played in Russia during the WNBA off-season, to remain in custody for the trial's duration. If convicted on drug smuggling charges, Brittney could face 10 years in a Russian prison. Her trial will resume on July 7.
"On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year," the basketball pro shared in her letter.
"I realize you are dealing with so much," Brittney added, "But please don't forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home."
Cherelle, who called her wife the "strongest person" she knows, said she could feel the fear that Brittney was experiencing during a July 5 interview with CBS This Morning.
"She doesn't say words like that lightly," Cherelle said. "That means she truly is terrified that she may never see us again. And you know, I share those same sentiments."
Cherelle, who has only spoken recently to her wife through letters, said she feels that Brittney decided to write to the president directly because the family has had no luck in contacting him.
"I know my wife really well. So, I feel confident in saying that I think the decision for her to feel the need to directly reach out to President Biden is because of the failed attempts that we have had as a family," she said. "It kills me every time that, you know, when I have to write her and she's asking, 'Have you met with them yet?' And I have to say no... I'm sure she is like 'I'm going to write him and ask now because my family has tried to no avail, so I'm going to do it myself.'"
Even after yesterday's letter was delivered, Cherelle said she has not heard from Biden directly and she said that is "very disheartening."
Cherelle said when she first heard about Brittney being charged by the Russian government for a "large-scale transportation of drugs," she couldn't believe it.
"It blew my mind because I'm like large-scale? I live with B.G. every day, and so there's no way possible. So I knew it wasn't true the minute that I heard the charge because I know my wife. I'm like, no," she said "It's very unfortunate, you know, that she's in this position because B.G. does not large-scale do anything in traffic of drugs. It was very very hard to hear that charge."
Numerous NBA and WNBA stars have called for Brittney's release throughout her imprisonment. But those closest to her are pressing forward the best way they can, Cherelle shared.
"Everything about this is a calculation for me because I have to walk the fine line of harm versus help when it comes to my wife right now," Cherelle said. "So, as much as I want to advocate for her and push for our governments to do everything, I also have to take into account that she's in a position where she could be harmed also, by any and everything I do, and so, it's a thin line to walk."
Cherelle revealed that she was initially told to "stay quiet," but that's simply not an option for her.
"Initially I was told, you know, we are going to try to reserve, we're going to try to handle this behind scenes and let's not raise her value and, you know, stay quiet. You know, I did that and respectfully, we're over 140 days at this point. That does not work," Cherelle said. "So I will not be quiet anymore. I will find that balance of, you know, harm versus help in pushing our government to do everything that's possible because being quiet, they're not moving, they're not doing anything. So my wife is struggling, and we have to help her."
Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle says it is “very disheartening” that she still has not heard back from the White House — after Brittney penned a handwritten letter to Pres. Biden from a Russian prison pleading for help. pic.twitter.com/MTyQqCJIBj