The spotlight was back on the Phoenix Mercury’s All-Star center Brittney Griner. Her presence brought her supporters to their feet.
"Seeing you cry makes me cry," Griner said.
Griner took questions from reporters for the first time since being freed by Russia.
"Honestly, you are going to be faced with adversities throughout your life. This was a pretty big one. You find a way to just grind it out, just put your head down and keep going," she said.
Griner spent 10 months detained in Russia on drug-related charges. The U.S. traded Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner's release.
Across the U.S. and in Phoenix, Griner's fans, supporters and family had rallied to bring her home, spreading the word on social media with the hashtag "we are BG" and writing letters to Griner to show their support.
"It just lets you know that you are not forgotten and it’s so easy to feel forgotten — that no one is thinking of you," Griner said.
It’s why she says she partnered with the "Bring Our Families Home" campaign, unveiling a mural to bring a spotlight to those wrongfully detained, including former marine Paul Whelan. Griner added that her team is in contact with the family of Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich.
"Just keep pushing because we are not going to stop, we are not going to stop fighting. We are not going to stop bringing awareness to everyone that’s left behind right now," Griner said.
The basketball star says a lot of work lies ahead, both in her new mission and on the court as she gears up for the WNBA season.
"Just the fact that she’s here is an absolute miracle and we are all so happy, everyone should be happy today," said Vanessa Nygaard, head coach of the Phoenix Mercury.
The three time WNBA champion and Olympic gold medalist says she’s ready to play.
"I used humor throughout this experience and I'm really looking forward to this season," Griner said.
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