Brittney Griner’s Wife Cherelle Says ‘Today My Family Is Whole’ After WNBA Star’s Prison Release

Brittney Griner
Image source: People

Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, says her “family is whole” again after the WNBA star was released from Russian custody.

Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner wife, tells her “family is whole” again since the WNBA celebrity was released from Russian custody.

Brittney Griner's Wife
Image source: People

“Today is just a cheerful day for my family and me, so I’m going to happy right now,” Griner’s wife Cherelle said after her husband was released from Russian custody on Thursday.

Cherelle spoke about her wife’s release during a news conference hosted by Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, shortly after news broke that 32 years Brittney had been released from Russian custody in a prisoner swap for a convinced arms dealer.

“So, you all have been privy to one of the darkest moments of my life over the last nine months, and hence currently I am just standing here overloaded with sentiments, but the most significant feeling I possess right now is just honest gratitude for President Biden and his entire government,” she began.

Noting that Biden, 80, previously stated that repatriating an American citizen from overseas detention “is not easy,” Cherelle said, “There have been other hands involved, and so I’d like to take this moment to explicitly mention a few.”

Cherelle thanked Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner’s teammates, Phoenix Mercury basketball players, among others, before saying, “Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there are so many other families who aren’t whole.” She then mentioned Paul Whelan, another American who remained imprisoned in Russia and was not included in the Griner swap.

“Thank you for your support, and today is just a pleasant day for me and my family, so I’m going to smile right now,” Cherelle said. “I appreciate it.”

Griner, who had been imprisoned to 9 years in a Russian jail for drug smuggling, was released on Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner exchange for arms trafficking dealer Viktor Bout, according to CBS News, citing a US official.

According to five former US officials, the exchange settlement between Griner and Bout was a while back settled with Moscow and was offered formal approval by Biden last Thursday.

Before speaking at the same press conference as Cherelle, Biden tweeted, “Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” along with photos of himself, Harris, and Cherelle.

Griner was previously imprisoned for nine years on August 10, just one year less than the maximum allowed sentence of ten years. Griner’s attorneys stated in a statement shared with PEOPLE that the verdict was “absolutely unreasonable” and that they would “certainly file an appeal.”

Biden praised Griner’s discharge from Russian custody in his speech on Thursday morning. “Good morning, folks, and it is a good morning,” Biden said, standing in front of Harris and Cherelle.

“I spoke with Brittney Griner moments ago, standing in the Oval Office with her wife Cherelle. She’s safe, she’s on a flight, she’s on her way back home after months of being unfairly held in custody in Russia, held under unbearable circumstances,” he continued.

“Brittney will soon return in the embrace of her loved ones,” Biden added. “We never stopped pushing for her release; it took long and arduous and intense negotiations, and I want to thank all the honest hard working public servants throughout my administration who worked diligently to secure her release.”

He also expressed gratitude to “the UAE for assisting us in facilitating Brittney’s return, because that’s where she landed; these past few months have been hell for Brittney and Cherelle, and her entire family, and all her teammates back home,” he said.

Biden later stated that Griner would return to the United States “within the next 24 hours.”

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