Brittney Griner Receives Support From Russian Teammate, Team Director

A week after pleading guilty to drug charges in Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner is making her case in court. In the process, she is receiving support from her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg.

On Thursday, two members of the team — director Maxim Rybakov and teammate Evgeniia Beliakova — appeared in court to voice their support for Griner, who has been detained by the Russian government after being discovered with vape cartridges containing hashish oils at Sheremetyevo International Airport.

The drug offense — which quickly escalated into an international affair for the United States government — could put Griner behind bars for 10 years.

Griner's teammate Evgeniia Beliakova testified on the 31-year-old's behalf on Thursday.

"Brittney has always been a very good teammate, so my role here is just to be with her, to support her," Beliakova told the Associated Press. "We miss her very much; we miss her energy. I was very happy to see her, and I hope this trial will be over soon and with a positive outcome."

The WNBA star has previously reached out to President Joe Biden in a desperate plea to be released from Russian custody. She has spent roughly five months under detainment and endured little communication with loved ones since. The team director stated that Thursday's appearance was the first time he had seen Griner.

"I'd like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn't want to break the law," Griner said when pleading guilty, per Reuters. "I'd like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare."

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Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan. Known for having watched every movie and constant craving for dessert. @alejandroaveela (on X)