Brittney Griner re-signs with the Phoenix Mercury, returning to WNBA after release from Russian prison


Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is seen during the game against the Indiana Fever at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on September 6, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Michael Hickey | Getty Images

Basketball star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner re-signed to the Phoenix Mercury for one year, NBC News confirmed.

A statement officially announcing the signing is expected on Tuesday, according to a source close to Griner.

The athlete has played for the Mercury her entire WNBA career, which started in 2013. She missed the full 2022 season while imprisoned in Russia for nearly 10 months, according to

Griner previously said she intended to play in the 2023 season. This move puts to bed any doubt about the team.

Griner was freed from a Russian penal colony in December after the Biden administration negotiated her release in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout.

She was arrested in February 2022 at a Moscow airport for allegedly arriving in the country with vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage, according to Russian authorities. Griner pleaded guilty at her trial in July but said she had no criminal intent. The canisters, which she had been prescribed to treat chronic pain, were packed inadvertently as she hurriedly prepared for her flight, she said.

In her first comments after she was freed in the prisoner exchange, Griner wrote on Instagram that being in Russian custody for almost 10 months was an emotional battle.

“I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going,” Griner wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”

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