WNBA Star’s Inspiring Return and Change of Heart

After nearly ten months spent in a brutal Russian prison, WNBA star Brittney Griner made a triumphant return to the court on Friday, receiving a standing ovation from her hometown team, the Phoenix Mercury. Over fourteen thousand fans showed up to witness her comeback, nearly doubling the average attendance from last year. Among those in the crowd, famous faces like Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff came out to support Griner.

Showing the emotional impact of Griner’s return, Harris tweeted a video of herself meeting the two-time Olympic gold medalist in the locker room. In her tweet, Harris called Griner’s comeback an inspiration to the nation, praising her strength and courage. This heartwarming encounter between two strong women resonated with fans across the country.

During the game, fans noticed something different about Griner’s behavior on the court. For the first time in years, she stood for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, a departure from her previous stance of sitting it out. Just a few years ago, Griner declared that she would no longer salute America. However, her harrowing experience during her time in Russia made her rethink her allegiance to the United States.

In July 2020, Griner shared her thoughts with the Arizona Republic, stating her belief that the National Anthem should not be played during the WNBA season. She expressed her support for the league if they decided to continue playing it but also made it clear that she would not be out there on the court during the anthem. Griner’s decision to sit out the national anthem was a response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police.

Despite choosing to stay in the locker room during the anthem, Griner wanted to make it clear that she did not intend any disrespect towards her country. She emphasized that she had pride in her country and was proud to represent the United States in the Olympic Games.

Griner’s arrest in Moscow’s International Airport for drug smuggling, where she was caught with vape cartridges containing hashish oil, was widely seen as a scare tactic orchestrated by Vladimir Putin’s regime. Now that she is back on American soil, the National Anthem holds a deeper meaning for Griner. Reflecting on her experience, she shared with ESPN, “What I went through and everything, it just means a little bit more to me now. So, I want to be able to stand. I was literally in a cage [in Russia] and could not stand the way I wanted to. Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand.”

Griner’s change of heart and her decision to stand for the anthem align with her newfound appreciation for the freedoms and opportunities that America offers. She also expressed her unwavering support for those who choose not to stand or participate, emphasizing that it is their right as Americans in this great country.

Griner’s return to the WNBA and her powerful journey serve as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the ability to reevaluate our beliefs and choices. Her story resonates with people of all ages, as it speaks to the importance of standing up for what we believe in and the power of personal growth and resilience.