The 54th Annual NAACP Image Awards was a night full of memorable moments and celebrations. One of the most beautiful highlights of the event came when WNBA star Brittney Griner and her wife Cherelle received an emotional standing ovation from the star-studded audience. The couple offered thanks to everyone for their support, with Cherelle shouting out the advocacy of Black women.
“We’re just truly so thankful to all the people, many of whom are Black women, and Black-led organizations who fought so hard to bring BG home tonight,” Cherelle said.
After being wrongfully detained in Russia for 10 months, a prisoner exchange between the two countries brought the Phoenix Mercury center home to the U.S. in December. In February 2022, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was stopped at a Moscow airport when police say they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The basketball star was later found guilty of drug smuggling and possession, and sentenced to nine years in prison.
“It feels so good to be here, especially with my beautiful, amazing wife and with all of y’all here today,” Brittney said. “I want to thank everyone. And let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained. Overseas.”
Shortly after returning home in December, the eight-time WNBA all-star posted a message on Instagram where she confirmed her intention to play basketball again. She recently re-signed with the Mercury. Per ESPN, on Thursday, Brittney was on the court for an individual workout with Phoenix coach Vanessa Nygaard. The NBA’s Phoenix Suns were holding their practice at the same time, which led to some interaction between Mercury and Suns players.
“Just to see her out there practicing, running around…it’s unreal,” Suns center Deandre Ayton said. “Her just being back, trying to get back in shape and just loving what she loves to do. Her mind is free, everybody’s happy.”
The Phoenix Mercury begin the 2023 WNBA season Friday, May 19 on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks.