Brittney Griner Calls to “Keep Fighting to Bring Home Every American Still Detained Overseas” at NAACP Image Awards

Brittney Griner made a special appearance at the 2023 NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, just over a year after her initial detainment in Russia.

“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,” host Queen Latifah said as she introduced the professional basketball player. “Back home, back here with us tonight where she belongs, our sis, Brittany Griner.”

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Griner was arrested in Russia in February 2022 when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage, The Associated Press reported. Her case quickly gained national attention since she is an openly gay Black woman, detained in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community.

She was sentenced in August and remained jailed until December when American and Russian officials said Griner was freed in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the U.S. releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

As she took the stage at the ceremony in a black suit and white shirt, with her wife Cherelle Griner, she received a standing ovation from the audience. “We are just truly so thankful to all the people, many of whom are Black women and organizations, who fought so hard to bring BG home tonight,” Cherelle said, wearing a purple suit.

Griner, who recently re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury, continued, “It feels so good to be here, especially with my beautiful, amazing wife and with all of y’all here today. I want to thank everyone and let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas.”

The televised 54th NAACP Image Awards aired live on Sunday following a week of non-televised ceremonies. Find the complete winners list here.

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