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Brittney Griner breaks silence after being released from prison in Russia: "It feels so good to be home!"

Brittney Griner says she will return to basketball
Brittney Griner says she will return to basketball in first comments since release from Russia 02:05

Brittney Griner is opening up about her return home for the first time. The WNBA star, who returned to the U.S. last week after a prisoner swap with Russia, was detained in the country for 10 months. 

On Friday, Griner shared a long Instagram post about her return to the U.S. and her plans for the future.

"It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn," she wrote. "I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help."

Her post included photos of her stepping off the plane and embracing her wife, Cherelle.

Brittney Griner embraces her wife Cherelle after landing back in the U.S. from Russia.
Brittney Griner embraces her wife Cherelle after landing back in the U.S. from Russia. US Army Photo by Miguel A. Negron

Griner, a center for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, said she intends to return to play for the team this season.

She was in Russia to play in the country's basketball league during the WNBA offseason when she was detained at an airport in February. She later pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the discovery of cannabis-derived oil cartridges in her luggage. Griner said she didn't mean to bring the cartridges with her when she traveled to the country, but was sentenced to nine years in prison.

She was released last week in a one-for-one prisoner swap for notorious international arms dealer Viktor Bout, bringing an end to an ordeal that sparked intense high-level negotiations between the Washington and the Moscow to secure her freedom.  

In her Instagram post, Griner thanked her wife, family, lawyers, the WNBA and its players, the Biden-Harris administration, as well as the activists and organizations who helped campaign for her safe return from Russia.

To secure Griner's release, President Biden signed a commutation order for Bout, cutting short his 25-year federal prison sentence. CBS News was first to report the swap, which took place in the United Arab Emirates. 

On Friday, Griner thanked Mr. Biden for not only bringing her home, but for being committed to bringing home Paul Whelan and other Americans detained overseas. She vowed to use her own public stature to assist in that effort.

"I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole," Griner wrote.

Whelan, a Marine veteran, has been held in Russia since 2018, and efforts to include him in the swap with Griner were rebuffed by Russia. 

When Griner first arrived back in the U.S., she was taken to San Antonio to be assessed by doctors, and she expressed thanks to them in her statement as well.

"As I transition home to enjoy the holidays with my family, I want to acknowledge and thank the entire PISA staff and medical team at the San Antonio Fort Sam Houston Base. I appreciate the time and care to make sure I was okay and equipped with the tools for this new journey," she said.

Griner concluded by saying: "I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say 'thank you' to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon."

The WNBA star has already started getting back to playing basketball. She shot hoops at Fort Sam in Houston just a couple of days after her return, and according to ESPN, her first move was a dunk.

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