NEW YORK (AP) — Basketball player Brittney Griner is working on a memoir that will be released in spring 2024, claiming she is ready to tell the “unfathomable” experience of being detained and imprisoned in Russia.
Griner was arrested last year at Moscow’s airport on drug-related accusations and held for nearly 10 months, the majority of which was spent in prison. Her plight unfolded at the same time as Russia invaded Ukraine, heightening tensions between Russia and the US, and ended only after she was exchanged for the renowned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Griner, a WNBA All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury, had travelled to Moscow in February 2022 to rejoin UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian women’s team she has played with since 2014.
“That day (in February) marked the beginning of an incomprehensible period in my life that I am only now ready to share,” Griner said in a statement released by Alfred A. Knopf on Tuesday.
“The main reason I returned to Russia for work that day was to make my partner, family, and teammates proud.” I am grateful to have been rescued and returned home after an exceedingly difficult ten months in detention. Readers will hear my tale and realize why I am so grateful for the outpouring of love from individuals all across the world.”
Griner also expressed hope that her book would bring attention to other Americans detained abroad, such as Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in Russia last month and accused of espionage; businessman Kai Li, who is serving a 10-year sentence in China on charges of revealing state secrets to the FBI; and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive imprisoned in Russia on spying charges. Whelan criticized the US government for not doing enough to support Griner around the time he was released.
Russia has been a favorite offseason playing destination for top WNBA athletes, with some earning over $1 million – roughly quadruple what they can earn as a base WNBA contract. Griner still faced trial under Russian law despite admitting guilty to carrying cannabis oil canisters as a result of what she claimed was hasty packing.
Griner’s memoir is presently untitled and will be released in a young adult edition later this year. The financial details were not provided.
Knopf said in a press release on Tuesday that the book would be “intimate and moving,” and that Griner would reveal “in vivid detail her harrowing experience of wrongful detention (as classified by the State Department) and the difficulty of navigating the byzantine Russian legal system in a language she did not speak.”
The announcement continues, “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.” “At the heart of the book, Griner emphasizes the personal turmoil she experienced during the nearly ten-month ordeal, as well as the resilience that saw her through to the day she returned to the United States last December.”
Griner, 32, is a 6-foot-9 two-time Olympic gold medallist, three-time All-American at Baylor University, a vocal advocate for gender justice in sports, and the first openly homosexual athlete to sign a Nike endorsement agreement. She has previously released one book, “In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court,” in 2014.
She re-signed with the Mercury in February and will play in the team’s upcoming season, which runs from May to September.