The WNBA acknowledged Griner’s commitment to advocating for wrongfully detained individuals abroad and her efforts in helping marginalized communities in Phoenix, which led to her recognition for the entire season.
Last year, Griner, a two-time Olympic gold-medalist, faced nearly 10 months of Russian custody on alleged drug charges. However, the US State Department considered her detainment unjust, and she was released in December through a prisoner swap involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The league highlighted Griner’s significant impact through initiatives like the “Bring Our Families Home” (BOFH) and the “BG Heart & Sole Shoe Drive.”
The BOFH campaign raises awareness about Americans held hostage or detained overseas. Griner initiated the shoe drive in 2016 after witnessing unhoused individuals in Phoenix without proper footwear. The Phoenix Rescue Mission reports that nearly 2,000 people have received shoes through this drive.
The WNBA will donate $20,000 to both charities as a tribute to Griner’s accomplishments.
“I am aware of the opportunity, privilege, and responsibility I have to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and I am fully committed to that,” said Griner in a press release on Friday.
During the past season, the nine-time All-Star played 31 games, averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Griner, 33, intends to continue playing for the Mercury next season and represent Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Griner’s inclusion in USA Basketball’s roster for the upcoming training camp and exhibition games was announced on Thursday. The team will play their first game against the University of Tennessee on November 5.
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Rachel Adams is your WNBA insider, delivering comprehensive coverage of women’s basketball. With a commitment to highlighting the talent and achievements of WNBA players, she provides game analysis, player profiles, and inspiring stories from the league.