American basketball player Brittney Griner, 31, was detained in Russia after local authorities said they found vape cartridges in her suitcase.
Griner plays for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia.
She is one of 11 players who has won the WNBA, NCAA, EuroLeague, and an Olympic gold medal.
Brittney Griner, 31, is a decorated American basketball player. SB Nation describes her as "one of the top players in the history of college sport."
Griner was born in Houston, Texas, in 1990.
Griner made her professional debut in 2013 and was the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) top overall pick. She was drafted first by Phoenix Mercury.
Bleacher Report described Griner, who plays center, as "an impossible matchup for most defenders."
In February, Griner was detained at a Moscow airport for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, said Russian authorities, per the Associated Press.
The customs service did not specify the date she was arrested, per the AP.
Evelyn Farkas, a former Pentagon official, told Yahoo Sports that Griner may be used as a "high-profile hostage" to "blackmail" the US.
"If we want her out of jail, Russia is going to have some terms," Farkas, who served as the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, told Yahoo Sports. "It could be a prisoner swap. They also could use it as an implicit threat or blackmail to get us to do something or not do something. Either way, they find it useful."
Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said various authorities have been in contact with Griner and are working to get her back to the US.
"We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA," Kagawa Colas told reporters on March 5.
"As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern," Kagawa added.
The US Department of State said it will support Griner's case in Russia.
"We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen arrested in Moscow," a State Department spokesperson told Insider. "Whenever a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services."
Griner, her agent, and her family did not immediately reply to Insider's requests for comment.
In 2014, Griner started playing for Russia-based UMMC Ekaterinburg in the WNBA off-season.
Griner is one of more than a dozen players competing for international teams in this year's off-season in Russia and Ukraine, according to The New York Times.
She was named the EuroLeague Women Final Four MVP in 2019.
Griner is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Griner competes with the US women's national basketball team in international competitions, most notably the Olympic Games.
Griner is one of 11 players to have won the NCAA, WNBA, EuroLeague championships, and an Olympic gold medal, according to The Guardian.
Griner made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she was one of three rookies on the team.
"I know my role – defense. Keep them out of the paint, block shots, get boards and on offense just get deep. I love it because I love defense," Griner told AZ Central in August 2016.
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Griner scored 30 points in the final against Japan to help the team clinch gold. She set a new record for the most points scored by a US women's player in a gold medal game.
Griner's towering physique — she's 6'9" — helps her stand out from the crowd, even when it's a crowd of basketball players.
Griner wears a men's size 17 shoe, and has an arm span of 222 centimeters (87.5 inches), according to the WNBA's official website.
"It helps a lot that I'm just real comfortable with my height," Griner told Chron in an interview in January 2009.
Arizona-based newspaper AZ Central described Griner's physique and size as "almost unmatched in the women's game."
Griner is married to her high school sweetheart, Cherelle Watson.
Watson, who has since adopted Griner's last name, wrote an Instagram post on March 6 that her wife's detention is "one of the weakest moments" in her life.
"I love my wife wholeheartedly," she wrote in the post. "Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely," she added.
Griner came out as gay in a 2013 interview with Sports Illustrated.
Griner was previously married to fellow WNBA star Glory Johnson, according to People. They annulled their marriage 28 days after their wedding in May 2015, the publication reported. Griner and Johnson were arrested on charges of assault and disorderly conduct in April 2015. The pair was released from jail the next day, according to The Washington Post.
Griner is the youngest of four siblings.
Her father, Raymond, is a deputy sheriff in Harris County, per ESPN.
Griner had a strained relationship with her father, who told her that he "ain't raising no gay girl," and forbid her from meeting friends during freshman year in college. He later accepted her sexuality.
"Brittney wants people to accept her for who she is," Raymond told ESPN in 2013. "I get that now.
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