Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner stood once again for the national anthem, stating that hearing the United States’ anthem “hit different” after her time spent in a Russian prison.
Last year, Griner made headlines when she was arrested for the illegal importation of drugs into Russia. The WNBA star was sentenced to work in a Russian labor camp for 9-and-a-half years after illegally bringing cannabis oil into the country. After spending nearly a year in a Russian prison, the White House struck a deal with the Kremlin to exchange Griner for a Russian arms dealer that was in U.S. custody.
Since her return to the United States, Griner has expressed a greater appreciation of American values. Despite having a history of protesting the national anthem prior to sporting events, Griner made the decision to stand before the flag once again when she returned to the court.
“Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand. Now everybody that will not stand or not come out, I totally support them 100 percent. That’s our right, as an American in this great country.”
- WNBA Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner
In the height of racial protests following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Griner publicly stated her resentment for the national anthem and expressed her thought that it should not be performed prior to WNBA games. Griner refused to stand on the court while the anthem was played before games, remaining in the locker room with several teammates until the anthem was over. “I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season,” Griner told The Arizona Republic in 2020. “I think we should take that much of a stand.”
Griner has been wildly outspoken over her professional career regarding radical, political talking points. However, it appears that she is changing her tune on condemning America after spending some time in captivity overseas. Perhaps her experience facing harsh oppression in Russia, followed by liberation from American leaders, has given her a new outlook of gratitude and appreciation for our great country.
This piece first appeared on TPUSA.