NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodMcLennan County


Arrested in Russia: Waco prays for safe return of former Baylor basketball player

Russia-Griner Arrested Basketball
Posted at 3:50 PM, Mar 07, 2022

WACO, Texas — As controversy continues to unfold overseas, another issue close to Central Texas has come to the surface.

Former Baylor basketball player Brittney Griner was recently arrested near Moscow on apparent drug charges after airport authorities say they found cannabis oil vape cartilages in her suitcase.

Brittney's story has caught the attention of many people across the county, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who represents Griner's hometown of Houston. The congresswoman hosted a press briefing recently to show support for the former Baylor basketball player.

"Let me be very clear, Brittney Griner is a United States citizen," she said. "She was a guest in Russia with the WNBA, and I will be demanding her release."

Jackson Lee said she's spoken with the state department on what can be done to bring her home, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been very vague about those plans.

"Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide any available assistance, and that includes in Russia," Blinken said.

As the country deals with yet another Russian controversy, prayers have been pouring out of Waco for her safe return.

Baylor's women's basketball team released a statement on Monday: "The news of Brittney's detainment is obviously very alarming, and our thoughts and prayers are with BG and her family. Right now, our foremost concern is for her safety and well-being during this difficult time in Russia and her eventual safe return to the United States."

There has also been a petition for her safe return that has gotten a lot of attention.

Griner's arrest as an open member of the LGBTQ community also raises concerns over the country's treatment of LGBTQ people.

"It worried me when I first heard about it because she's LGBT and just what's going on with Russia," said Texas A&M University Central Texas sociology professor Michelle Dietert.

Russia passed an anti-"gay propaganda" law in 2013, which is designed to ban LGBTQ activism within the country.

Griner's wife took to Instagram over the weekend to address her arrest.

"I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life," Cherelle Griner wrote, "I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details."