WNBA center Brittney Griner is likely more recognized for her stint in a Russian prison than her decade as a professional basketball player and on Saturday the celebration of victimhood was met with a standing ovation.
While other Americans have remained captive overseas, President Joe Biden leaned into the celebrity backed cause of freeing Griner after the Phoenix Mercury player was sentenced to nine years in a Russia prison for smuggling drugs into the country in the form of cannabis oil. Russians received the notorious arms dealer dubbed the “merchant of death,” Viktor Bout, and the United States passed on bringing home a former Marine in Paul Whelan instead opting for the race hustling athlete who can’t stand to hear the national anthem.
Naturally, that has meant a prolonged heroes welcome for Griner who was invited out onto the stage at Saturday’s 54th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California for nothing else but to shower her with praise.
Event host Queen Latifah introduced the WNBA player by saying, “As we gather here tonight in the spirit of overcoming adversity, I want to take a moment to recognize someone who has done just that. Back home, back here with us tonight where she belongs, our sis, Brittney Griner.”
That moment when Brittney Griner and her wife Cherelle Griner took the stage at the 54th #NAACPImageAwards to roaring applause.👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/lDkqHWokrR
— NAACP (@NAACP) February 26, 2023
As the camera panned the audience highlighting former NBA all-star Dwyane Wade, Women’s tennis champion Serena Williams, who herself would be honored with the Jackie Robinson Sports Award, and a slew of celebrities offering a standing ovation, Griner and her partner Cherelle were bowed to by Latifah on stage before embracing in a hug.
“We are just truly so thankful to all the people, many of whom are black women and black-led organizations, who fought so hard to bring BG home, tonight,” Cherelle said after a long pause.
Applause resumed when Griner spoke up to say, “It feels so good to be here, especially with my beautiful, amazing wife and with all of y’all here today.”
She would go on to add, “I want to thank everyone and let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas.”
Following the event, Griner shared an image of her and Cherelle with the caption, “Humbled from the love shown by my people,” with an emoji of a black fist.
View this post on Instagram
Griner, who signed a one-year deal to continue playing for the Mercury after her 10 months in Russia custody left her out of the previous season, had also made appearances at an Arizona Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, watching golfers at the Phoenix Open and attending Super Bowl LVII in support of the Philadelphia Eagles.
As had been the case with the announcement of the prisoner exchange, the show of support for Griner on television did not match the response from those at home who called out the player’s stated disfavor of America.
How are you all going to applaud for a woman that hates America?
— tattooboss$13 (@cyco1313) February 26, 2023
You’ve got to be kidding me… what a joke!!
— Mari Ville (@marvill2000) February 26, 2023
Shoulda let her stay in Russia
— Ryan (@ryan_dr3) February 26, 2023
I’m sure all the family of the dead from the “merchant of death” will be tickled to death…sad that a domestic battery and a law breaker in another country is celebrated for anything…
— Kevin Fenter (@KFin5674) February 26, 2023
Republished with permission from American Wire News Service
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