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Brittney Griner and her wife receive standing ovation at NAACP awards

American professional basketball player Brittney Griner acknowledges fans as she watches on the 16th hole during the third round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

WNBA star Brittney Griner and her wife, Cherelle, received a standing ovation at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, months after she was freed from Russian prison.

The couple made an appearance at the annual award ceremony Saturday night, with rapper and actress Queen Latifah introducing them to the star-studded audience, which stood for a 30-second ovation. 

“Thank you for that beautiful applause,” Cherelle Griner said on the stage. “We are just truly so thankful to all the people — many of whom are Black women and Black-led organizations — who fought so hard to bring BG home tonight.”

Brittney Griner said she was thankful to be home.

“I want to thank everyone. And let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas, Griner said. “Thank you.”

It’s been two months since the Biden administration secured the release of Griner from Russia in a prisoner swap with notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner, an eight-time WNBA all star, had been serving a nine-year sentence at a Russian penal colony after being found guilty of possessing hashish oil at a Moscow airport in February 2022.

Griner officially re-signed with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury last week, joining a 2023 roster which includes star players Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Sophie Cunningham. 

“We will continue to use the resources of our organization to support her, on and off the floor, and we are thrilled for her that she gets to return to basketball, which she loves so dearly,” Mercury general manger Jim Pitman said in a statement. “This is a special signing and today is a special day for all of us.”

Griner last appeared in the WNBA in 2021, when she and the Mercury clinched a WNBA Finals berth, only to lose to the then Candace Parker-led Chicago Sky in four games. 

Tags Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Cherelle Griner Detainment NAACP NAACP Image Awards Pheonix Mercury Russia-Ukraine conflict Viktor Bout WNBA

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