Despite warnings for citizens to leave Russia ahead of its invasion of Ukraine, the seven-time WNBA All-Star was rejoining her Russian basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. WNBA players actually don’t make that much money, so a lot of them play overseas in the offseason. Russia has always been a popular destination because their teams tend to pay more for big stars like Brittney. During her interview, Cherelle explained that while “they treat them like superstars,” her wife would prefer to stay home.
“BG would wholeheartedly love to not go overseas,” Griner said. “She has only had one Thanksgiving in the States in nine years since she’s been pro. She misses all that stuff. Just because, you know, she can’t make enough money in the WNBA to sustain her life.”
Speaking of the WNBA, many of the Phoenix Mercury center’s teammates and opponents have taken over her charitable organizations and duties to make sure she knows they still have her back. The league itself is displaying its support with the sidelines of every court featuring “BG 42.” Cherelle explained how these gestures keep Brittney positive.
“I think more specifically, it comforts BG,” she said. “It lets her know she’s not forgotten and obviously, when you’re sitting over there, your country—they haven’t come to your rescue yet. I know that it makes her feel good because she doesn’t want to be forgotten.”
Brittney has let her wife know how important it is that Cherelle doesn’t give up, because that’s how the couple will get through this.
“I’m okay, because you have to be technically, you know? She wrote me one letter and was like, ‘Babe, I know you wanna go down right now but like, don’t just yet,’” Cherelle said. “Because every day you wake up, and the fact that you’re still in that reality, it is a reason for you to lose faith and to not have hope. It gives you so much reason to go down. And I won’t go down until she’s back. I just won’t. Every single day matters for me to be sound, for me to be alert, for me to be attentive, to make sure that she comes back. But it’s hard. It’s hard.”
The full interview airs tonight on Nightline at 12:35 a.m. ET/PT on ABC.