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'I'm fighting a different fight now': Brittney Griner shares perspective on being home in Texas after loss to Dallas Wings

The Houston native is encouraging people to use their voices and help share the stories of families who have loved ones detained. "Never give up hope," she said.

ARLINGTON, Texas — May 29, 2021 – that’s the last day Brittney Griner played a WNBA game in Texas against the Dallas Wings before being wrongfully detained in Russia. 

Now, 740 days later, Griner is back in her home state of Texas along with her team, the Phoenix Mercury, to play two games at College Park Center “The Park” in Arlington. 

The atmosphere, the night lovingly called “Welcome Home BG” and the energy in the arena was palpable ahead of the game. 

Griner's former high school coach, the Baylor Lady Bears women's basketball team, her family and friends all came out in support of her. 

The Brittney Griner collection by Round 21 was also on sale – showing her mission dedicated to bringing other Americans who have been wrongfully detained overseas home.

As the time came for her name to be called in the starting lineup for her squad, fans across the arena stood to give her a warm welcome. 

And to cap it off – she made the first bucket of the game after winning the tip.

But that’s where the love from Wings fans ended, this is still a basketball game.. So, whenever BG received the ball from then on out, the boos were in full effect.

The battle in the paint was on. 

As the game progressed in a back-and-forth of wills to win, Griner's homecoming was spoiled by a 84-79 loss to the Wings.

She ended the matchup with 24 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

But “Welcome Home BG” night at The Park was more than just acknowledging the return of the basketball star. There was a message, too, shining a light on other families affected by the wrongful detainment of their loved ones. 

In the first quarter of the game, the Wings shared a video of Zack Shahin and his family. Shahin is an American who has been imprisoned in Dubai for 15 years. His family traveled from Houston to share his story.

Read related: Brittney Griner advocates for imprisoned American Zack Shahin during return to Texas 

In her postgame interview, Griner shared how grateful she was for all of the support she received in Texas thus far and also made it known she's "fighting a different fight now" in advocating to bring home other Americans who have been wrongfully detained. 

"I didn’t know how severe it was before I lived it," said Griner. 

She's encouraging people to use their voice and help share these families stories, along with encouraging them to never give up hope.

Griner also shared the hope that one day she can inspire others to be themselves in the league, too. She expressed how cool it was to have the support of her circle, former high school coach and her alma mater at The Park. 

And on the rhetoric, she has a strained relationship with Baylor -- she wanted to make it known that she and Lady Bear head coach Nicki Collen are great and Griner hopes to see her name in the rafters someday. 

"I would love to see my jersey in the rafters – once she [Collen] got there, the doors really opened up and the love and support came in."

The love and support not only coming from her fellow Houstonians and alumni, but her competition too. 

After their win, Dallas Wings' Satou Sabally shared her thoughts on facing off with BG and having her back on the floor. 

“It means a lot. I think that you cannot really grasp it in words how it really could have been if this would have continued," said Sabally. "And it's just really amazing that she can play. Last year, we played without her and it was just weird. Something was missing and now everything is back to normal."

Griner shared that it's about more than basketball, yes, they go head to head and battle on the hardwood, but the players across the league care about each other and each other's missions outside of the game. 

But don't get it twisted, the star center wants a win in her home state. We got one more chance to see BG up close. 

"...I really wanted to get this dub, we got another shot," Griner said.

Friday is Pride Night at The Park for the second matchup against the Wings. And that game is sold out! 

To end her postgame comments, Griner was asked about the special relationship she has with her wife, Cherelle Griner, and how she was integral in the fight to not only bring her back home, but back to the league. 

"She's the real MVP," Griner said. "Thank you for being my rock." 




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