‘Digging deep’: WNBA's Griner opens up about Russian detention

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STORY: GRINER: “You know, I'm no stranger to hard times.”

U.S. basketball star Brittany Griner became emotional Thursday while speaking to reporters for the first time since returning home after her near 10-month detention in Russia.

GRINER: "... see you cry and then you made me cry. Um, just digging deep honestly. You know, you're going to be faced with adversities throughout your life. This was a pretty big one, but I just kind of relied on my hard work getting through it."

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was released from one of Russia's most notorious penal colonies in a high-profile prisoner exchange with the United States late last year.

In February of 2022, Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport and subsequently convicted of narcotics possession and trafficking after she was found to have been carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

Griner - in her own defense - said she was prescribed medical cannabis in the United States for a chronic injury and never intended to break the law.

U.S. officials said Griner was wrongly detained, and was being used as a political pawn amid increasingly strained relations with Russia.

On Thursday, she thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for helping negotiate her release and the press for drawing attention to her case.

GRINER: "Thank y'all for covering me, and all the exposure that you gave me, my family to get me home. I really appreciate it. That coverage was was much needed."

Griner pledged to dedicate herself to bringing home other Americans wrongly detained abroad and was asked if she felt guilty for being home while others were not.

GRINER: “If I could have went in and got them out or any of that, I mean, of course I would have [FLASH] I hope that we - everyone - continues to bring awareness and fight to bring home everyone."

The 32-year-old will begin her 10th season with the Phoenix Mercury when their season kicks off on May 19.

She said she was done forever with playing basketball abroad as many in the WNBA do to earn extra income.

GRINER: "...never going overseas to play again."

She did make one exception: to represent her country at the Olympics.