Thursday morning, news broke that Russia had freed WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittany Griner. 293 days after being wrongfully detained, Griner is coming home to America after agreeing to a prisoner swap with notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Across the WNBA, Griner’s teammates and teammates celebrated. Within the Sky organization, the messages were highly personal.

Sky coach/GM James Wade coached Griner’s Russian club, powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg, from 2017–2020 and won two Euroleague titles with them. Throughout the 2022 season, Wade was vocal in sharing support for Griner and his family, both at press conferences and beyond.

Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot and Emma Meesseman were all Griner’s teammates in Russia as well.

“Today is a monumental day not only for [Griner] But to his family, friends and support system,” Wade said in a statement. “I am very happy to hear the news of BG coming back home. I know I can speak for the entire Sky organization when I see that words cannot express the joy we feel that she is finally home.

“Tears of joy today! And before Christmas? God is so good. Welcome home BG!!!! We love you!” Quigley shared on Twitter.

“BG is going home,” Meesman tweeted.

“So, so happy for BG and her family,” Candace Parker, who won gold with Griner in 2016 and played with her overseas, shared on Instagram. “It’s amazing news.”

Since Griner’s arrest last February, the league has been vocal in its support for him. Players and coaches pleaded steadfastly for Biden’s safe return.

Griner’s Olympic teammate and another former teammate from Yekaterinburg, Breanna Stewart, shared the same message on social media every day, varying only the number of days. University of South Carolina championship-winning coach Don Staley shared a similar daily message, along with an image of an orange square pin with the message, “We’re BG.”

“It has been 293 days since our friend Brittany Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia. It’s time for him to come home. We’re paying attention and we’re counting on you. #WeAreBG” read Stewart’s last message for Griner’s release.

On Thursday both the messages were different.

“God’s grace is enough! Brittany Griner is home! I love you BG!” Staley shared on Twitter.

“BG IS FREE!!! 294 DAYS AND SHE’S COMING HOME!!!” Stewart’s message read.

Griner was transferred to a Russian penal colony in October after a nine-year sentence for vaping cartridges containing trace amounts of cannabis oil was upheld in an appeals court. Russian officials continued to indicate during Griner’s wrongful detention that sincere negotiations regarding a prisoner exchange could not begin until the legal process was fully completed.

About a month after Griner’s transfer to a penal colony in the western Russian region of Mordovia, she is coming home.

“Today, my family is complete,” said Cherrell Griner. “But as you all know, there are many other families that are not complete. BG is not here to say it, but I will happily speak on her behalf and say that BG and I are working to get every American home, including Paul.” Will be committed to. [Whelan.],

“Thank you all for your support,” Cherrell continued. “Today is a happy day for me and my family. So, I’m just going to smile.



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