STORY: “So, it’s been very difficult, especially because I know Brittney is a great person.”
Debbie Jackson is Brittney Griner's former high school basketball coach.
She's known the WNBA star for well over a decade - and says she was frustrated to hear Thursday's verdict.
“It’s, it’s been sad."
Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison after being found guilty of deliberately bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into the country.
It's a ruling U.S. President Joe Biden called 'unacceptable'.
Jackson says she's upset - but she can’t imagine what Griner’s family is going through.
“And to think that you have a daughter and you can’t give them encouragement, try to boost their morale. My heart goes out to the whole Griner family as well as her wife.”
She describes Griner as someone who never wanted to be the center of attention and always had a good sense of humor.
“She’s a very caring person and I think a lot of that comes from she knows the side of when they’re, she has been bullied for her sexual orientation. She’s black. She’s a woman, very tall stature. You know, she’s bullied about her height. And so, I think she knows, she is a very caring person because she knows how words can hurt cause she experienced that.”
With the trial over, Jackson hopes talks between the U.S. and Russia will lead to a solution for Griner and other Americans held in Russia.
“I’m praying that both sides will negotiate in good faith and that Brittney and other Americans that are in Russian prison can come back home. Cause, cause every one of our citizens deserves consideration... She’s always in my prayers. Every night.”