By John Marshall
Brittney Griner got emotional quickly.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since a nearly 10-month detainment in Russia on drug-related charges, the WNBA star had to take a moment to compose herself after being asked about her resiliency through the ordeal.
“I'm no stranger to hard times,” Griner said Thursday from the lobby of the Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Mercury and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. “Just digging deep. You're going to be faced with adversities in life. This was a pretty big one. I just relied on my hard work to get through it.”
Griner's first news conference drew more than 100 people, including Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, members of the Mercury organization and her wife, Cherelle.
Griner was arrested in February 2022 at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
After nearly 10 months of strained negotiations between Washington and Moscow, Griner was exchanged in the United Arab Emirates for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on Dec. 8.
Griner kept a low profile following her return to the U.S. while adjusting to life back at home, outside of appearances at the Super Bowl, the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open and an MLK Day event in Phoenix.