Brittney Griner Memoir in the Works on ‘Unfathomable’ Russian Detainment

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 25: Brittney Griner speak onstage during the 54th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 25, 2023 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET).

Four months after she was released from Russian custody, Brittney Griner is working on a memoir about the ordeal.

The book is scheduled for release next year and will detail the WNBA star’s imprisonment and Feb. 17, 2022, arrest on drug-related charges, according to publisher Alfred A. Knopf.

“That day was the beginning of an unfathomable period in my life which only now am I ready to share,” Griner said in a statement Tuesday released by Knopf to The Associated Press.

The Phoenix Mercury star traveled abroad to play for Russian women’s team UMMC Ekaterinburg in the off-season.

“The primary reason I traveled back to Russia for work that day was because I wanted to make my wife, family, and teammates proud,” Griner added in the statement. “After an incredibly challenging 10 months in detainment, I am grateful to have been rescued and to be home. Readers will hear my story and understand why I’m so thankful for the outpouring of support from people across the world.”

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The two-time Olympic gold medalist was taken into custody at Moscow Airport after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges with hashish oil inside her luggage.

In May 2022, the U.S. government issued a statement saying Griner had been “wrongfully detained.”

Activists rallied for her release and said she was being used as a political pawn by Russia as it faced global condemnation for its invasion of Ukraine.

Griner was convicted in August and sentenced to 9 years in a brutal prison camp. She appealed the sentence in October, but the appeal was rejected.

After months of lobbying by supporters and diplomatic efforts by the Biden administration, she was freed in a 1-for-1 prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on Dec. 8.

Knopf described the book as “intimate and moving,” adding that Griner will reveal “in vivid detail her harrowing experience of her wrongful detainment (as classified by the State Department) and the difficulty of navigating the byzantine Russian legal system in a language she did not speak.”

The WNBA all-star hopes to raise awareness about other Americans detained in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who was arrested last month on espionage charges, which the newspaper has denied.

Griner also wants to bring attention to the case of Paul Whelan, a former Marine who has been jailed in Russia since 2018, following a conviction on espionage charges.

Last year Whelan spoke with CNN and denied being a spy. “I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” he said in a phone call from a Russian penal colony. Whelan added that he was “greatly disappointed” the Biden administration hasn’t done more to secure his release.