Staley offers South Carolina's White House visit to Griner's wife
As Brittney Griner's detainment in Russia nears 100 days, former WNBA star and reigning NCAA championship-winning head coach Dawn Staley is offering South Carolina's ceremonial opportunity to visit U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House to Griner's wife, Cherelle.
In an emotional interview published Wednesday, Cherelle Griner told ESPN's Angela Rye that she had requested a meeting with Biden but had not yet been granted an opportunity to discuss the situation.
Griner was arrested at an airport near Moscow on Feb. 17 for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing hash oil, a derivative of cannabis. Russia invaded Ukraine a week later, leading many to presume that the Phoenix Mercury star is being held as a "political bargaining chip," as Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, tweeted last week.
The U.S. State Department reclassified Griner as a wrongful detainee earlier in May, allowing officials to negotiate her release outside of ongoing legal proceedings. Russia has reportedly extended the 31-year-old's pretrial detention through June 18.
As with previous WNBA offseasons, Griner had signed a lucrative contract to star for Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg. She stood to make considerably more than her $221,515 average annual WNBA salary while playing for the team based in the industrial hub nearly 900 miles east of Moscow.
"It's the irony of all of it: She didn't want to go back," Cherelle Griner told ESPN. "She said she was so exhausted from always having to go overseas, and we talked about it, and I was like, 'Well, you know what, babe? Let's just make this your last year overseas then. You don't have to go back anymore.'
"'We'll figure something else out when it comes to pay,' because obviously there is a tremendous difference in the amount of money that she makes when she's playing (in the) WNBA versus when she goes overseas. So that's why it's been something that she had to do."