Brittney Griner: All Star Released From Russian Detention

Brittney Griner is a 7-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist. She has played in Russia for the past seven winters and is worth millions.

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Dec. 8 2022, Updated 2:58 p.m. ET

Brittney Griner
Source: Getty

Brittney Griner at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2013.

Well-known WNBA player on the Phoenix Mercury, Brittney Griner played in Russia this past winter. In the Moscow airport in February 2022, she was detained for having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, a charge that came with a hefty prison sentence of nine years. The 31-year-old All-Star player has recently been released from Russian custody.

Griner's net worth is both impressive and in the millions. Read on to learn how much the Olympic gold medalist and 7-time WNBA All-Star is worth.

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Brittney Griner

Professional Basketball Player

Net worth: $5 million

Brittney Griner was a standout in her high school basketball playing days, being named the WBCA High School Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American. At Baylor University, she helped her team to an NCAA championship. The #1 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, Griner has continued playing for the Phoenix Mercury since, securing the WNBA Championship in 2014.

Birthdate: October 18, 1990

Education: Baylor University

Spouse: Cherelle Griner

Glory Johnson (annulled)

Brittney Griner Was Arrested in Russia and Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison

Griner, though she wasn't named originally by the Russian Customs Service, was later identified by Russian media as the WNBA player arrested in Moscow. On March 5, NPR reported that both the WNBA and the Mercury acknowledged Griner's detention in Russia.

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Russian authorities claimed that vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in Griner’s luggage at the Moscow airport. Later that year in August, NPR reported that the Russian court had sentenced Griner to 9 years in prison on drug charges.

Phoenix Mercury
Source: Phoenix Mercury Facebook

Phoenix Mercury's statement on Facebook regarding Griner.

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The Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA organizations voiced their support for Griner, who had been playing for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg. Unfortunately, the timing of Griner’s detention coincided with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia. Many people wondered if the Russian government would continue to detain Griner and use her as a bargaining tool with the U.S.

On Dec. 8, Griner was released from a Russian prison in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Bout, an infamous international arms trafficker, also known as the "Merchant of Death," was sentenced to 25 years in a U.S. prison.

Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, stated that the U.S. embassy in Moscow would remain open to provide support, but urged Americans to leave Russia. Without mentioning Griner by name, he noted, “Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia.”

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As CNN reported in March, Griner’s wife Cherelle had wrote on Instagram about the difficult situation and asked fans, “Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely.”

Nearly 10 months later, Griner thanked President Joe Biden and his administration for securing her wife's release from Russia, The Wallstreet Journal reported. Cherelle Griner said she was “overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration.”

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Brittney Griner dunks
Source: Phoenix Mercury Facebook

Brittney Griner is a prolific dunker, having made two dunk shots even in her debut WNBA game.

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Brittney Griner has several WNBA records but earns about four times her WNBA salary in Russia.

Griner started her professional career in 2013 with the Phoenix Mercury. Griner started off her debut game with two dunks to equal Candace Parker’s career total. She has been named seven times to the WNBA All-Star team, won the WNBA Championship with the Mercury in 2014, and been on the Olympic gold medal team twice.

The maximum salary for WNBA players is $228,094 for 2022, The New York Times reported. That’s a much lower total than top NBA players can earn. Stephen Curry and LeBron James have earned over $40 million a year.

That salary discrepancy is a large factor in why Griner and other WNBA players go overseas in the off-season. Reportedly, Griner has earned over $1 million per season during the past seven years by playing in Russia during the winter. According to CelebrityNetWorth, Griner’s net worth is estimated at $5 million.


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