WNBA star Brittney Griner named co-Comeback Player of the Year after spending 10 months in Russian prison
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WNBA star Brittney Griner has been named the co-Comeback Player of the Year by the Associated Press following her return to basketball.
The 32-year-old was detained in Russia for almost 10 months from February 2022, seeing her miss the entirety of that WNBA season.
The Phoenix Mercury player had pleaded guilty to drug charges after Russian authorities had found cannabis oil vape canisters in her luggage.
She had originally been given a nine-year sentence, however, the Biden Administration looked to have her released early, trading the ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout in December 2022.
Griner returned to basketball in 2023 with the Phoenix where she was named in her eighth All-Star team this season.
This was despite the Mercury having the worst record in the league.
The American finished the season averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, across the 31 games she played.
The AP awards its Comeback Player of the Year to those who overcome adversity, usually by fighting back through injury or drastically improving on their last season’s performance.
Of course, this was instead due to her return after a harrowing 10 months spent in a Russian prison for a drug charge.
Griner did miss nine games of the season in order to heal from injuries and also focus on her mental health.
And despite a disappointing season for the Mercury, she was in good spirits when talking to reporters.
According to TMZ, she said: “I tell you one thing, it's not good being at the end of the standings but it's better than where I was a year go, that's for sure."
She shared the Comeback Player of the Year award with Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier.
Collier returned to the WNBA after sitting out a season due to giving birth to her first child.
The Lynx finished sixth in the regular season standings.
Griner says she plans to play in the 2024 season and hopes to get an invite to compete in the Paris Olympics next year.
She told reporters: “There’s no greater honour than playing for the USA, playing for your country.
“I’ve got some really good memories with Team USA, so I would love the chance to continue that.”
Featured Image Credit: Getty.