Brittany Griner can’t play with her WNBA partners. She can’t even call them.
But she can write.
In a slightly less common situation, Griner has been able to receive emails and letters from WNBA players during her detention in Russia. Hundreds of emails have been sent by players to Griner’s agent’s account to allow them to communicate with him.
It’s not easy: Emails are printed out and sporadically distributed by his lawyer to Griner after being investigated by Russian authorities. Griner does not have access to an email account; She will either write the answer on paper and her lawyers will take her picture or if she doesn’t have any, she will get the answer written down.
Los Angeles Sparks forward Amanda Zhui Bee never thought she’d hear back from Griner when she sent an email to the Phoenix Mercury Center a few months ago.
“He blew me away when he replied to my second letter,” said Zhui Bei. “I was like he replied!! In his third letter, I was like ‘Hey best friend, we’re officially best friends now.’ as it was
Like many WNBA players, Zhui Bei wanted Griner to know she was thinking of him because the two-time Olympic gold medalist, in what US officials thought, had been wrongfully detained in Russia.
Griner has been detained for 105 days after a vape cartridge allegedly containing hemp oil extracted from hemp was found in his luggage at an airport near Moscow.
When Zhui Bei got her first response from Griner, she smiled and promised herself that she would send more notes. And she’s sending them out every few weeks. So are many other players.
“We don’t want her to feel like she’s forgotten,” Liberty Center Stephanie Dolson said.
It’s not just emails being sent to Griner; Diana Taurasi actually sent a handwritten letter to her Mercury and Olympic teammate.
Griner’s agent Lindsey Kagawa Kolas said the letter is a way for the 6-foot-9 center to stay connected to his WNBA family.
Some players only hope and pray for Griner’s release and say that they are looking forward to him. Others send sudoku puzzles or more personal notes.
“She jokes in her letters. I don’t know how she does with what she’s doing. She’s a wonderful soul,” Zhui Bei said. “She brings light to a situation like this. I don’t think many people can do that.”
Zhui Bei, who jokingly admitted that she had a tendency to roam, sent Griner an update about her daily activities, describing such mundane things as getting her nails done or what she did in the afternoon. What did you eat for lunch?
She wasn’t very close to Griner when they played in both the WNBA and Europe, but got to know him better over time. Griner sent a video of Zhui Bei’s mother offering support when she was battling breast cancer and another a few years ago for her 60th birthday.
Griner, who responded to the Sparks player last week, signed off “from 42 to 42” when Zhui Bei told her she was switching her number 42 in honor of the center.
While writing letters to Zhui Bei came naturally, other players say it’s hard to find words to put pen to paper.
Griner faces drug trafficking charges that carry a maximum prison term of 10 years. Another American believed to be improperly detained in Russia is Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive. Whelan was arrested in December 2018 while attending a friend’s wedding and was later sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage-related charges, which his family has called baseless.
Marine veteran Trevor Reid, who has also been jailed for nearly three years in Russia, was released in late April as part of an unexpected prisoner exchange involving a convicted Russian drug smuggler who fled to the US. Was serving a long prison sentence.
Last month, the Biden administration said Griner, 31, was being unfairly detained. In May, his detention was extended for another month at least until mid-June.
“It’s difficult. It’s so sensitive and you don’t want to say the wrong thing,” Mystix continued, Elizabeth Williams. “It’s also a sad situation and you don’t want to remind her that it’s a sad situation. I think at the end of the day she is happy to hear anything from anyone. ,
Williams said the union sends texts every two weeks to remind WNBA players that they can reach Griner via an email account. For now, the account is not open to the public in an effort to keep it manageable.
New York Liberty’s Sandy Brondello, who coached Griner in Phoenix for nine seasons, became aware of the opportunity a few days ago to email his former player.
“I’m going to tell her I love her and I’m thinking about her,” said the emotional Brondello. “This is my girl, it’s terrible. She’s been there for a very long time.”
To see more stories on Griner: https://apnews.com/hub/brittney-griner
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.