Brittney Griner Hits Basketball Court Following Release From Russian Prison

After 10 months in Russian captivity, WNBA star Brittney Griner was finally released to the United States in early December. Arrested at a Russian airport in February for cannabis possession, Griner pled guilty in August to drug smuggling and was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, per CBS News. The U.S. Department of State described Griner's imprisonment as wrongful detainment in May, with a rep emphasizing the U.S.'s continued "efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner," per AP News.

With President Joe Biden announcing on December 8 that Griner was on a plane home, he also revealed that her return required "painstaking and intense negotiations" with the Russian government. Ultimately, with the help of Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Griner was released in a one-on-one prisoner exchange for an international arms dealer, Victor Bout, reports CBS. In video provided by the Russian Federal Security Service, the Phoenix Mercury star was shown smiling and looking healthy on her return flight stateside. 

Now that the WNBA star player is back in her home state of Texas, she wasted no time hitting the hardwood again.

Brittney Griner is already dunking again

Although it may be some time before Brittney Griner plays professionally again, she's already scoring dunks after her release from a Russian prison. Still stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, the two-time Olympic gold medalist hit the on-base court for a workout on December 11, per ESPN. After nearly 10 months of captivity in Russia, she was spotted playing Sunday after landing in her home state of Texas days earlier.

Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, told ESPN that Griner has no current plans to return to the game. "If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to rest and decide what's next without any pressure," Colas said of the Phoenix Mercury star, who was reportedly "doing really, really well." Adding that there are also security concerns related to Griner's stateside freedom, Colas noted, "She's reintegrating into a world that has changed for her now."

Previously, ESPN reported that Griner spent 12 of her 18-hour flight talking with the crew of her plane ride home. According to Roger Carstens, the presidential envoy for hostage affairs who helped obtain her release, Griner said, "I've been in prison for 10 months, listening to the Russians. I want to talk." Carstens recalled watching Griner "making a personal connection" with every member of the flight crew. "It was really amazing," Carstens said.