Brittney Griner writing memoir on “unfathomable” Russian imprisonment
▶ Watch Video: Brittney Griner re-signs with the Phoenix Mercury for a one-year contract
Washington — Brittney Griner will share more about her “unfathomable” experience behind bars in Russia in a memoir set to be released next year, she said Tuesday.
The WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist spent nearly 10 months imprisoned on drug charges in Russia, where she played during the WNBA off-season. Her arrest coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, further complicating negotiations for her release. She was freed in December in a prisoner swap for notorious international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“That day was the beginning of an unfathomable period in my life which only now am I ready to share,” Griner said in a news release announcing her yet-to-be-titled memoir from publisher Alfred A. Knopf.
“The primary reason I traveled back to Russia for work that day was because I wanted to make my wife, family, and teammates proud,” she said. “After an incredibly challenging 10 months in detainment, I am grateful to have been rescued and to be home. Readers will hear my story and understand why I’m so thankful for the outpouring of support from people across the world.”
Griner said she hopes her book also brings awareness to the cases of other Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad, including Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia for more than four years on espionage charges; Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was recently arrested in Russia; and journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared more than a decade ago in Syria.
“Griner discloses in vivid detail her harrowing experience of her wrongful detainment (as classified by the State Department) and the difficulty of navigating the byzantine Russian legal system in a language she did not speak,” Knopf said in Tuesday’s statement. “Griner also describes her stark and surreal time living in a foreign prison and the terrifying aspects of day-to-day life in a women’s penal colony.”
After her return to the U.S., Griner re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury on a one-year contract.