Brittney Griner Discusses ‘Mental Lapse’ In Russia After ‘Forgetting’ Cannabis Oil Cartridges Were In Luggage

Brittney Griner looks on in the second half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game between the UConn Huskies and the Iowa Hawkeyes at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 05, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
2:59 PM – Monday, April 29, 2024

This week, basketball player Brittney Griner will discuss her time spent in a Russian prison in public for the first time since her release in December of 2022.


The nine-time WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist was reportedly asked hard-hitting questions by Robin Roberts in an interview that will appear on ABC on Wednesday. Griner revealed that her incarceration was the result of a “mental lapse” and that she occasionally felt suicidal while locked up.

“I was just so scared,” Griner told Roberts. 

Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury, traveled to Russia in February 2022 to play in the WNBA’s offseason.

However, as her bags were being checked at Khimki’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, security officers found vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil—a substance that is strictly prohibited in Russia.

“I could just visualize everything I worked so hard for just crumbling and going away,” Griner told Roberts. 

Griner, who entered a guilty plea to drug-related charges in July 2022, stated in court that she had “no intention” of breaking Russian law and that the cartridges had been packaged accidentally. On August 4th, 2022, she received a sentence of nine years in a penitentiary colony.

Griner claimed that when the cartridges were found, she suddenly thought about her family.

“I’m thinking about my wife. I’m thinking about my dad. You know, what my mom’s gonna think, what my family’s gonna think, public opinion is gonna think,” she said. Griner added that she could already see what the headlines would read. 

Roberts later challenges Griner in the interview about those who might not believe that she packed the cartridges by mistake. Griner insisted that the incident had been a “mental lapse,” nonetheless.

“Have you ever forgot your keys in your car? Left your car running? Have you ever — you know, where’s my glasses? They’re on top of your head. Where’s my phone? Oh, it’s in my pocket. It’s just so easy to have a mental lapse,” Griner said.

Additionally, Griner disclosed to Roberts that she had considered suicide on occasion whilst in prison.

“I just didn’t think I could get through what I needed to get through,” Griner said. 

After a lengthy legal battle, the United States was able to free the basketball player in exchange for the violent Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is nicknamed “the merchant of death.”

Griner was released on December 8th, 2022, following a roughly 10-month incarceration.

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