Who is Brittney Griner?
- Griner was on the United States women's Olympic team in 2016
- In 2021, Griner was named to the United States women's national team for the 2020 Olympics
- She is currently in custody in Russia over drug smuggling charges
Brittney Yevette Griner, an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association, has been locked up in a Russian prison after her arrest on charges of drug smuggling.
Russian officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in the 31-year-old's luggage. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison. Her trial begins Friday.
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In 2012, the three-time All-American was named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. She was named the nation's No. 1 high school women's basketball player by Rivals.com in 2009.
In 2012, she received the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award. In 2013, Griner signed an endorsement deal with Nike.
"We can't get into specifics, but it's safe to say we jumped at the opportunity to work with her because she breaks the mold," Nike spokesman Brian Strong said of signing Griner at the time.
Griner was on the United States women's Olympic team in 2016, and led them to victory at the Rio Olympics.
In 2021, Griner was named to the United States women's national team for the 2020 Olympics, where she won her second gold medal.
Griner is one of 11 women to receive an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship, a FIBA World Cup gold medal and a WNBA championship.
Griner is the daughter of Sandra Griner. She has three older siblings.
There are speculation that Griner's arrest centers on Russian President Vladimir Putin's alleged desire to use the American star to push the Biden administration into trading for her freedom.
"It's a negotiation strategy," Danielle Gilbert, an assistant professor of military and strategic studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy, said, according to ESPN. "The trial -- and the threat of a long sentence -- gives the Russians more negotiating leverage."