WNBA star Brittney Griner’s plight was a central topic at an athletics award ceremony in Hollywood on Wednesday night, and an impassioned speech from soccer phenom Megan Rapinoe drove it all home.
Griner has been held prisoner in Russia for the past five months for having vape canisters containing hashish oil in her luggage while traveling through the country.
Like many WNBA players, she was playing overseas during the off-season to help compensate for the relatively low pay female athletes receive in the United States.
Rapinoe took the ESPYs stage to receive the “Best Play” award and used the opportunity to speak out in support of her sister in sport:
“We love her. … We miss her. … We’re doing every single thing we can to get her out.”
—Megan Rapinoe took a moment to acknowledge Brittney Griner at the ESPYS pic.twitter.com/5JDFj74bLS
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2022
“The most striking thing is that BG’s not here. BG deserves to be free. She’s being held as a political prisoner,” Rapinoe says.
“Like what are we doing here dressed up like we are when our sister is detained abroad? We haven’t done enough, none of us. We can do more, we can support her more, and just let her know that we love her so much.”
This isn’t the first time Rapinoe has used her platform to call attention to Griner’s plight in a big way. While receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this month, the star wore a suit with the initials “BG” embroidered on the lapel.
She also wrote in a post about the medal ceremony that Griner was “the most important part of today.”
“BG is being used as a political pawn and we need to bring her home immediately,” the athlete wrote. “This plea doesn’t change that @potus needs to and is working hard to get her home.”
Throughout the ESPYs ceremony, a number of other sports stars including Billie Jean King, Steph Curry, and WNBA players Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith voiced their concern and support for their fellow athlete.
The speeches were applauded by Cherelle Griner, BG’s wife, who was in attendance.
“Every time we say it in interviews, it puts pressure on everybody,” Rapinoe states. “It puts pressure on the administration, it puts pressure on Russia, it puts pressure on Putin, it puts pressure on everyone.
“It lets BG know also, above everything, that we love her and that we miss her and that we’re thinking about her all the time.”