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Brittney Griner is writing a memoir about 'unfathomable' time in Russian prison

Ryan Hudgins

Tue, April 11, 2023 at 3:23 PM PDT

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For the first time, basketball player Brittney Griner will be opening up about her time in Russian prisons for almost a year in 2022.

The untitled memoir will detail the WNBA star's arrest in Russia on Feb. 17, 2022. At the time, she was traveling to rejoin the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team.

Russian authorities said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in the 32-year-old's luggage when she arrived in Moscow at the Sheremetyevo Airport.

"That day was the beginning of an unfathomable period in my life which only now am I ready to share,” she says in a statement shared with TODAY by her publisher, Knopf.

Brittney Griner will release her memoir in Spring 2024. (Courtesy Evan Millstein)

The raw memoir will touch on the two-time Olympic gold medalist's detention, trial, and imprisonment in Russia that followed. It will also recount the public and behind-the-scenes efforts to bring Griner home to the United States.

The Phoenix Mercury player was released in December after the Biden administration negotiated a prison swap, with arms dealer Viktor Bout returning to Russia. Prior to her release, she was sentenced to nine years working in a Russian penal colony after pleading guilty to the drug charges.

"After an incredibly challenging 10 months in detainment, I am grateful to have been rescued and to be home," she says. "Readers will hear my story and understand why I’m so thankful for the outpouring of support from people across the world."

The memoir will document the difficulty of navigating the Russian legal system, particularly without speaking the language. The WNBA All-Star also discusses her “stark and surreal time living in a foreign prison” and her daily life living in a women’s penal colony.

She will touch on how the #WeAreBG movement began, and the issue of pay equity for women athletes in the United States. It was this income inequity that propelled Griner to pursue basketball in Russia for seven previous seasons, as well as return for her eighth in 2022.

Griner also noted that through writing this book, she hopes to bring awareness to other Americans wrongfully detained abroad, including former Marine Paul Whelan.

This will be Griner’s second book. Her first, “In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court,” was published in 2015.

The memoir will be published in the spring of 2024 by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is a division of Penguin Random House. It will be edited by Jordan Pavlin, Knopf senior vice president and editor-in-chief, and will have a co-writer.

“Brittney Griner has been a trailblazing pioneer in the world of sports for over a decade,” Reagan Arthur, Knopf EVP and publisher, says. “Her memoir recounts not only one of the biggest news stories of 2022 but also centers on a personal story of survival and hope.”


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