‘Say her name:’ As free Brittney Griner movement gains momentum, is it enough to get her home?

A young fan holds a sign supporting Brittney Griner during the game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Las Vegas Aces at Footprint Center./Chris Coduto, Getty Images

‘Say her name:’ As free Brittney Griner movement gains momentum, is it enough to get her home?

The free Brittney Griner movement is gaining steam with everyone from WNBA players to the U.S. government. But how much of an impact will it have? The answer is complicated.

By Chris Bumbaca | USA TODAY

 For the first six weeks Brittney Griner was in a Russian pre-trial detention facility, her family and representatives kept quiet as Griner faced drug charges that could keep her in prison for up to 10 years.

That changed once the United States Department of State classified Griner as “wrongfully detained”momentum for griner hinges on remaining vocal in May. Her wife Cherelle Griner and other family members became more vocal, sending a signal to other supporters that it was time to speak up.

Griner’s name, face and No. 42 jersey have appeared everywhere recently.

WNBA All-Stars wore her jersey to start the second half of the All-Star Game in Chicago earlier this month. Last week, a mural was unveiled in Washington, D.C., showing Griner, wearing her Team USA Olympic jersey, and 17 other “wrongfully detained” Americans.

Senators from both parties have called for her release. Stephen Curry wore her Phoenix Mercury jersey while hosting the ESPYs last Wednesday.

“We encourage the entire sports community to stay energized on her behalf.”

Stephen Curry

“The more we say her name,” Los Angeles Sparks guard and WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike said standing next to Curry, “the louder our voices will be.”

While the public support has grown exponentially, there remains a question: Will it have an impact and is it enough to help bring her home? The answer is complicated.

Brittany Griner is introduced at the WNBA All Star Game in Chicago.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said Cherelle Griner is currently not available for interviews.

“The support BG has been receiving from the athlete community speaks to the power of sport to unify, connect and inspire,” Kagawa Colas said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY Sports. “The athletes we have seen step up to advocate for BG represent a global community whose connections go beyond politics or global conflict.

“It’s an energy that will continue to build and it’s evidence of why the sanctity of sport should be celebrated and protected.”

Will the growing public clamor bring Griner home?


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