Brittney Griner’s teammates speak out about her “devastating” 9-year sentence in Russia: “It’s a helpless feeling”

WNBA star Brittany Griners nine years in prison Russia sent shockwaves back to loved ones in the US on Thursday after being sentenced this year for possessing vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil at a Moscow airport — which she says was an accident — for her Phoenix Mercury team. Colleagues talked about the “catastrophic ” circumstance.

After the Mercury’s 77-64 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Thursday, guard Skylar Diggins-Smith told reporters “nobody even wanted to play today.”

“This is our sister,” said Diggins-Smith. “…I don’t expect everyone to give a damn, but we really do. And we come out of here and we still have to play this f—ing game. … how about you approach Have a game, approach the court with a clear mind and the whole group is crying before the game?”

He further added that the team wants to respect Griner and work hard on his behalf, but given the circumstances, it may be difficult to do so.

Mercury guard Diamond DeShields shared the sentiment, saying he was proud to be part of the team and how hard they worked on Thursday.

“We approached the game tonight with a heavy heart because we have had every game this season,” he said. “But obviously, there’s a devastating overall feeling. … I mean, it’s like you’re just waiting for a bomb to drop, you know? Just watching it, seeing him behind bars. ”

“It’s a helpless feeling,” Diggins-Smith said.

The duo also constantly questioned the press for asking the team about Griner’s status.

“It’s heavy. It’s just heavy, y’all,” Diggins-Smith said. “You asking these questions doesn’t really take away from our trauma. You just add to our trauma, so we can break down in front of you, so you can see how we feel. I don’t know what really to say about it.”

During Thursday’s game, the two teams hugged each other on the half-court for 42 seconds of silence — Griner’s jersey number — to honor the basketball star. The silence was followed by slogans of “BG” and “Bring him home”.

Griner, 31, is a two-time US Olympic champion and eight-time All-Star with the Mercury, and in her WNBA off-season, she plays for Russia’s Yekaterinburg team. She was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after workers found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage, which her legal team argued she had accidentally placed while packing hastily.

grinner was convicted On Thursday, he was sentenced to a further nine years in prison for drug possession. He was also fined 1 million roubles, about $16,000.

President Biden immediately called for Griner’s release on Thursday, calling the conviction and sentence “unacceptable.” and on Friday Russia said it is ready for discussion A prisoner swap. In recent days, the White House has offered a swap with the country, calling for the release of both Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan. The US has not confirmed who they will release as part of the swap.

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