USA Today

By Lorenzo Reyes

Brittney Griner is making something positive out of her nearly 10-month detention in a Russian penal colony. She will be trying to help other Americans in similar situations.

That's according to a tweet posted to the official account of Greg Stanton (D), congressman for the fourth district in Arizona.

"Great visit with @brittneygriner as she worked out in preparation for the upcoming @PhoenixMercury season," Stanton wrote Wednesday in the message. "She and Cherelle are ecstatic to be home in Phoenix and made clear their commitment to help all wrongfully detained Americans around the globe."

In the tweet, Stanton, a former mayor of Phoenix, also posted two photos — one in which he was posing alongside Griner and another of him standing below a basketball hoop while she put up a jump shot from the elbow.

According to the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which is named for the American journalist captured and killed in Syria, there are 61 active hostage and wrongful detention cases in 18 different countries.

Here's everything you need to know about the situation.

What happened to Brittney Griner?

Griner, 32, was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport February 17, 2022 after authorities found vape cartridges with hash oil in her luggage. Griner pleaded guilty in early July, saying she’d mistakenly packed the drugs and that “there was no intent” to break the law. In August, she was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. In late October, she lost her appealThe eight-time WNBA All-Star was transferred in November 2022 from her pre-trial detention facility to the penal colony. Then, on Dec. 8, President Joe Biden confirmed that Griner was released from the penal colony and transferred to U.S. custody after a prisoner exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout. The following day, she landed at at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

Who is Brittney Griner?

Born in Houston, Griner blossomed into a basketball star. The 6-foot-9 center began dominating at Minitz High School (McDonald's All American, 2009) and played collegiately at Baylor from 2010-13. There, she was a member of the 2012 NCAA national championship team and was a two-time first-team All-American.

Representing the United States at the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Griner won two gold medals with the women's basketball team. Griner has been married twice. Her first marriage was to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson, but that ended after one year in 2016. Two years later, Griner became engaged to her current wife, Cherelle Griner. The couple married in 2019. 

At the time of her arrest, Griner was a professional player for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Contributing: Chris Bumbaca and Lindsay Schnell