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Emotional Cherelle Griner opens up about frustration over wife Brittney Griner’s detention, vows not to rest until she’s free

PHOENIX — As her voice cracked, Cherelle Griner, wife of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, told the crowd gathered inside the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon for the “Bring BG Home Rally” that she was beyond feeling hurt by the WNBA star’s detention.

“I assure you that what I feel is no longer hurt by the impact of this tragedy,” Cherelle said hours after speaking with President Joe Biden about his wife’s detention, which lasted 139 days. “What I feel today and what I feel today is a deeper emotion than pain. I’m frustrated.

“I am frustrated that 140 days have passed since my wife was able to speak to our family and friends. I am frustrated that my wife is not getting justice.”

Cherelle closed the 46-minute rally and received standing ovations from the crowd of over 300 (2,000 tickets were requested online), both when it was introduced and after its conclusion.

She explained that she wrote her comments for Wednesday’s event because it was difficult to talk about Brittney in the context of her detention.

“Talking about my wife is easy and natural for me because she’s my person,” Cherelle said. “However, to talk about my wife in light of her absence from her country, her safety and her humanity as a person is heartbreaking.”

Cherelle said she embraced Brittney’s on-court mentality, which Cherelle said Brittney once explained as simply fueled by pain and exhaustion.

“I remember asking him once, ‘Well, how do you play so well when you’re in pain and exhausted like that? “, Cherelle said. “She was like, ‘Oh, this me? That me, no matter how I feel or feel, I do the work.

“I’ll be honest, this is exactly where my wife and I diverge. Because I would rest then. Well, we used to differ there. As the days continue to increase, my wife is being wrongfully detained in Russia, I’ve adapted her mindset in my efforts to get her home by going there, no matter how I feel. rest because her humanity has been stripped from her. I can’t rest because her safety is in question. I Honestly can’t rest until she’s home. So while I stand here today, reflecting BG’s legendary mindset, I will continue to call on our government to bring her home despite how I feel.

Hall of Famer Ann Meyers Drysdale was the host for the event, which was held on the Mercury field, flanked by the two BG42 decals on the sideline near center court. Drysdale said holding the rally had three purposes: to raise the voice of the Mercury, get people to sign petitions calling for Brittney’s return, and support Brittney, who has been playing for the Mercury since 2013.

Representative Greg Stanton, who is the former mayor of Phoenix and current Mercury season ticket holder, spoke first, addressing Brittney’s impact on the Phoenix community and how she is a role model “for so many people, especially for the LGBTQ+ community”. Stanton said he is in regular contact with the State Department and the special envoy for hostage affairs.

“I know there is a group of highly qualified people working on his case, but it’s important for President Biden and the State Department to know that they have the full support of the American people to do whatever it takes. it takes to bring Brittney Griner home,” he said.

Then, former Dallas Wings center Imani McGee-Stafford called on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to keep their campaign promises to “uplift and protect black people.” It’s been almost two years and apart from reality, we know this is a pivotal moment. for them to show a follow-up to a platform that flattered us from every angle.”

“I don’t think anyone has to be extraordinary or exemplary for their country to protect it,” she said.

Mercury chief executive Jim Pittman spoke after McGee-Stafford and said he saw Brittney days before she left for Russia in February while training at Mercury’s training facility.

Most of the Mercury players except Diana Taurasi and Diamond DeShields were in attendance.

Mercury teammate Brianna Turner told stories of riding scooters around Indianapolis with Brittney last season, a recollection Turner included in a recent letter to Brittney. Brittney responded by telling him she remembers it fondly.

Both Turner and Sophie Cunningham have talked about communicating with Griner through letters — they send emails and receive photos of handwritten letters in return.

Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig also spoke and said he often puts himself in Brittney’s shoes to reflect on what she’s going through.

Between the speakers were videos, performances by the Mercury dance team and a local step group, and the reading of a poem.

After the rally ended, fans, some of whom were holding signs that read “Bring Brittney home,” began chanting “Bring her home.”

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