Brittany Griner, jersey, Baylor University, Russian, penal colony, coming home, Russia

Brittney Griner Recalls Feeling ‘Less Than A Human’ While In Russian Prison

Brittney Griner felt "less than a human" while in Russian custody.

Brittney Griner is officially breaking her silence on the 10 months she spent in Russian custody feeling “less than a human.”

The WNBA star sat down with Robin Roberts for a special edition of 20/20 where she recalled how “scared” she was during her Russian detainment due to the unknown of being incarcerated in a foreign country. Griner was returning to Russia on Feb. 17, 2022, to play during the WNBA off-season when she was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki after authorities searching her luggage located vape cartridges with hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist said she mistakenly left the cartridges inside her luggage and had “no intention” of breaking Russian law. She went on to plead guilty to the charges on July 7, 2022.

“My life is over right here,” Griner said of her thought process during the detainment.

The U.S. agreed that Griner was “wrongfully detained” and worked for months to secure her release and safe return to the U.S. However, Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison and transferred to a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia.

“The mattress had a huge blood stain on it. I had no soap, no toilet paper. That was the moment where I just felt less than a human,” Griner recalled.

The nine-time WNBA All-Star admitted to facing suicidal thoughts while in prison.

“I just didn’t think I could get through what I needed to get through,” she said.

After her appeal was rejected by a judge in October 2022, she was released on Dec. 8, 2022, in a prisoner exchange. Griner was swapped for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner will get more candid about her Russian detainment in her upcoming memoir Coming Home, releasing on May 7.

RELATED CONTENT:  Brittney Griner Just Months Away From Welcoming First Child With Wife, Cherelle Griner