DALLAS — For exactly three weeks, Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia and the WNBA star, Olympic gold medalist and Baylor alum has not been able to speak to officials with the U.S. Embassy.
“That’s very unusual and very concerning to me,” Rep. Collin Allred (D – Dallas) said. “There’s a lot going on in the world, but she should not be a victim of any of that.”
Allred is part of the effort to bring Griner home from Russia. He’s also a Baylor alum and former professional athlete who spent four years with the Tennessee Titans. Now, he’s a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I want to make sure I’m doing everything we can to support a fellow Texan,” he said.
Griner has been with the Phoenix Mercury for nine seasons but also plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia. Video from the country’s state-run news agency TASS shows Griner going through airport security. She allegedly had vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage, which could lead to a 10-year sentence.
“We’re just trying to be helpful in anyway we can. We understand this is going to be run largely through the State Department,” Allred said. “We’re going try to do everything we can to support Brittney in this moment, to make sure her rights are respected.”
According to the Federal Customs Service of Russia, Griner was detained back in February. She had flown to Moscow from New York, and according to Russian officials, a dog indicated drugs may be in her carry-on luggage.
She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
Griner is a Houston native, and Debbie Jackson, her former high school coach, says she doubts the star would bring cannabis with her considering she’s played for a Russian professional basketball team for nearly a decade and knows the laws.
“I was really was astounded as the news notifications came across my phone,” Jackson said. “It is a nightmare for everybody who knows Brittney and like I said, I just can’t imagine wat her family is going through, her partner is going through right now.”
Allred pointed to Trevor Reed, another Texan and a former Marine, as a case where an American has been held in Russia far longer than appropriate. Reed was initially detained nearly three years ago for public intoxication.
“We want to keep this as much as we can out of any political framework and keep it in the legal framework and one in which her rights are respected,” Allred said.” Hopefully she can come home as soon as possible.”
Both family and fans are seeking answers and her freedom.
“Know that you have thousands of people rooting for you and praying for you,” Jackson said.
The 31-year-old Griner has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star.