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LeBron asks why US Russian prisoner would want to come back to US

Lebron James. (Lebron James / Getty Images)
July 12, 2022

NBA star LeBron James suggested WNBA player Brittney Griner — who has been detained in Russia since February — is better off not returning to the United States. Griner was arrested when Russian authorities at Moscow’s airport said a scan of her luggage revealed she had vape cartridges containing hash oil.

“Now, how can she feel like America has her back? I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?’” James said of Griner during an appearance on “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” an HBO show that takes place in a barbershop where guests discuss news, sports and culture.

Griner, a 31-year-old Olympic gold medalist, was arrested on Feb. 17. Last week, she pleaded guilty to drug charges and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

According to CNN, Griner’s Russian legal team said in a statement that the WNBA star chose to plead guilty.

“She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people,” their statement read. “Considering the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG’s personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and there will be no severe sentence.”

Last week, both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner.

“While I will remain concerned and outspoken until (Brittney Griner) is back home, I am hopeful in knowing that the President read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond,” she said. “I know BG will be able to find comfort in knowing she has not been forgotten.”

Cherelle Griner was referring to a letter from Brittney to the president, in which the detainee said she was “terrified” that she might be in the Russian prison “forever.”

“(A)s I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote to Biden.

“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home,” she wrote.