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Brittney Griner is speaking out ahead of her sentencing.
As part of the ongoing trial related to her drug smuggling case, the WNBA star addressed the court directly after closing arguments on Aug. 4. During her speech, the 31-year-old shared the reason why she says she pleaded guilty to drug charges following her arrest in Moscow in February.
Earlier this year, the Phoenix Mercury star—who plays for a Russian team during the off-season—was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.
"My parents taught me two important things," Griner shared. "Take ownership for your responsibilities and work hard for everything that you have. That's why I plead guilty to my charges. I understand the charges against me. I had no intent to break any Russian laws. I want the courts to understand it was an honest mistake."
Griner than explained that she was in a "rush" to get back to Russia and her basketball team after having COVID-19 while on a break in the U.S.
"I want to apologize to the fans and my teammates for the embarrassment," she said through tears. "I want to apologize to my parents and siblings, the Phoenix Mercury and WNBA organization. I never meant to hurt anybody. I never meant to break any Russian laws. I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn't end my life here."
Concluding her emotional speech, Griner added that she "did not conspire to commit this crime," and hopes the court takes into the account the character references sent in on her behalf. "Again I want to apologize to my teammates for any damage that I have done to them," the athlete shared. "This is my second home and all I wanted to do was win championships and make them proud."
Following her arrest in February, Griner was charged with smuggling of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their precursors, or analogues, and with illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, manufacture, processing of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, or their analogues.
She pled guilty to all charges during the second hearing of her trial on July 7.
According to NBC News, Russian prosecutors have asked to sentence Griner to 9 and a half years in prison. Her sentencing is expected to be announced during her Aug. 4 hearing.
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