Brittney Griner is serving a 9 1/2-year prison sentence in Russia after being found guilty on drug charges. Since she was originally detained on Feb. 17, the situation has felt like an unreal experience for her wife Cherelle, in a nightmarish kind of way, as she told CBS Mornings.
In an interview at her home in Phoenix, Cherelle said she never imagined being in a situation like this because it doesn't feel like something that happens in real life. Cherelle met with President Joe Biden in September, but so far there is no timeline on when her wife can be expected to return to the United States.
"It's like a movie for me. I'm like, 'In no world did I ever thought, you know, our president and a foreign nation president would be sitting down having to discuss the freedom of my wife.' And so to me, as much as everybody's telling me a different definition of what B.G. is, it feels to me as if she's a hostage," Cherelle told Gayle King.
The eight-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist has been in Russian custody since she was detained at the Sheremetyevo International Airport when customs found vape cartridges with marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage. Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury but has also played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014. It's common for WNBA players to go overseas during the offseason as a way to supplement their income. However, nothing like this had ever happened to Griner before.
Griner's legal team got an appeal date for Oct. 25. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has been negotiating with Russia for a potential prisoner swap involving Griner and corporate security director Paul Whelan, who has been serving a 16-year prison sentence since 2020 for espionage charges.
It sounds like an action movie, but not one Cherelle wants to be a part of.
"It terrifies me because, I mean, when you watch movies, like, sometimes those situations don't end well. Sometimes they never get the person back," Cherelle said.
"I mean, this is my life and so I'm sitting there like, 'Do we get her back? Do I ever get to see my wife again?' Like, what happens here? The fact that everything's so unprecedented and everything's, like, changeable I think is a really good word. Like, I feel like every day I'm hearing something new, and so it's just kind of like, it's terrifying."