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It’s been less than three months since the United States government freed a Russian arms dealer in a trade for WNBA star Brittney Griner. Now she’s back to basketball with her first signed contract since the prisoner swap.
Announced Saturday via sources with ESPN, the 32-year-old has agreed to rejoin the Phoenix Mercury on a one-year deal.
The past year for Griner has been a tough ride. On Feb. 2022, Griner was detained at a Russian airport for carrying around a THC pen, which is met with harsh punishment in Russia. She had been playing overseas at the time.
Griner’s imprisonment and drug charges led to 10-months of tension between the U.S. and Russia, with Griner at the center of the drama.
Countless figures and outlets in sports called for the eight-time WNBA All-Star’s liberation, considering Russia’s harsh stance against gay athletes.
RELATED: BRITTNEY GRINER FACES HORRIFIC CONDITIONS IN RUSSIAN PRISON
Others called for Griner’s return while holding her accountable for kneeling during the national anthem after witnessing Russia’s strict authority over their people.
On Dec. 8, Griner returned to the U.S. after President Joe Biden agreed to send weapons manufacturer Viktor Bout. During the detainment, Griner’s side (including wife, Cherelle Griner) was critical of Biden’s delayed responses during negotiations.
Griner stated her intentions to join the Mercury once she returned to the U.S. “I also want to make one thing very clear, I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season,” Griner said.
Griner previously won a WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury (2014). The team drafted her first overall in 2013.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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