Berliner Tageblatt - Griner contemplated suicide during Russian prison ordeal: interview

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Griner contemplated suicide during Russian prison ordeal: interview
Griner contemplated suicide during Russian prison ordeal: interview / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Griner contemplated suicide during Russian prison ordeal: interview

WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has revealed she contemplated suicide during her nine-month ordeal in a Russian jail that left her feeling "less than a human".

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Griner, who was detained in a Moscow airport in February 2022 on drug charges before being sentenced to nine years in prison, made the revelation in excerpts of an upcoming interview with ABC Television released on Tuesday.

"Yeah, I just didn't think I could get through what I needed to get through," an emotional Griner said when asked by her interviewer on ABC's 20/20 news show if she had considered "ending it all."

In other segments of the interview, Griner, who was freed in late 2022 as part of a prisoner swap, gave an insight into the grim conditions of her incarceration at a Russian penal colony.

"The mattress had a huge blood stain on it. I had no soap, no toilet paper. That was the moment where I just felt less than a human," Griner said.

Griner said at one stage during her imprisonment she was ushered into a room to find "a huge knife sitting on the table."

"And I was like 'Now, this is going to be a ride,'" she said. "You've got to do what you got to do to survive."

Griner was arrested and charged by Russian officials for possessing vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage as she passed through airport security.

She later testified she had "no intention" of breaking the law and had packed the cartridges by accident.

Asked by ABC what she felt when she realized that she had left the cartridges in her luggage, she replied: "My life is over right here."

Later in the interview, Griner recalls the moment she was handed her nine-year prison term.

"I was just so scared for everything because there's so much unknown," she said.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist, WNBA champion and LGBTQ trailblazer, Griner was eventually released in December 2022 as part of a deal that saw her swapped for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout -- known as the "Merchant of Death".

At the time, Griner was one of several US-based players playing in Russia during the WNBA off-season in order to boost her income.

She has vowed never to play basketball abroad again for clubs following her jail sentence.

Griner's full interview, which comes ahead of the release next month of a memoir by the basketball player detailing her ordeal, will be aired on May 1.