WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared again in Russian court today (July 14). This time, however, she had support. Members of Griner’s Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, testified on his behalf. Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, also plays overseas during the WNBA offseason. According ESPNthe Olympian played in Russia for six seasons.
As reported by Reuters, Maxim Ryabkov (the director of UMMC Ekaterinburg) and team captain Yevgenia Belyakova praised Griner during today’s trial. They discussed how the American athlete’s “exceptional abilities as a player and his personal contribution [strengthen] team spirit.” Griner seeing members of her Russian team today would be the first time she’s seen acquaintances since her arrest in February.
Last week (July 7), Griner pleaded guilty to traveling with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She faces 10 years in a Russian prison for the offence. “I would like to plead guilty, Your Honor. But there was no intention. I didn’t want to break the law. I was in a rush to pack and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” she said.
After the court, Belyakova and Ryabkov spoke to reporters. “Our task today was to tell the court about her characteristics as an athlete, as a person – to tell how she played a big role in the success of the Yekaterinburg club and Russian women’s basketball in whole,” Ryabkov said. She continued, “Today is the first day we’ve seen our basketball player since February. Thank goodness she’s feeling good, she looks good.
Belyakova added: “I can say that Brittney has always been a very good teammate, so my role here is just to be with her, to support her. We miss her very much. We miss his energy. I was very happy to see her and I hope this trial will end soon and with a positive outcome. Griner is due back in court tomorrow.