Brittney Griner’s agent has described the moment the WNBA star and her wife, Cherelle Griner, were reunited in a Texas airplane hangar after a harrowing 10 months apart.
Following her imprisonment in Russia, Griner flew back to the United States on Friday morning, landing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Cherelle Griner, agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas and U.S. officials were waiting for her there.
Colas told ESPN that the reunion took place amid a carefully scripted arrival.
Before the plane arrived, they scouted for a place where the couple could share a moment without being seen by news cameras outside the base.
Someone noticed a black “X” taped to a suitable spot on the floor, so Cherelle stood there and waited, Colas said.
When the plane landed, a medical team and psychologist boarded first and spent about five minutes with the two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Then Griner disembarked the plane, walked into the hangar and shared an extended embrace with Cherelle while U.S. officials stood about 20 yards away, Colas said. The couple then went to a “family room” that had been prepared with some of Griner’s favorite snacks, including Cheetos, Reese’s peanut butter cups and Dr Pepper.
Griner was then taken to a hospital on the base, where she underwent a thorough evaluation.
On Sunday, she hit the basketball court for the first time in months at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. She has no immediate plans to leave the base, according to Colas, and hasn’t made a decision yet about if or when she’ll return to the WNBA.
“If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to rest and decide what’s next without any pressure,” Colas told ESPN. “She’s doing really, really well. She seems to have endured this in pretty incredible ways.”
Griner was released from Russia on Thursday in a prisoner exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The Phoenix Mercury basketball star was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner said she had packed them by accident and had no intention of breaking the law.
She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison for drug possession. In November, she was transferred to a Russian penal colony to begin serving her sentence.
Cherelle Griner worked extensively with the media, government and others to bring her home. In a social media post on Saturday, she thanked the White House and a long list of others who she said helped make it happen.
“Yesterday my heart was made whole thanks to the collective efforts of MANY! I’m humbled by their hearts. To care for another, a stranger to some, a friend to some — is humanity in its purest form!” she wrote. “As BG and I start our journey to heal our minds, bodies, and spirits— I wanted to personally say thank you to some of the hands; seen and unseen, that helped make it possible for me to see my wife again!”