WNBA star Brittney Griner was extremely happy to be on a plane heading back to the United States last week after spending 10 months detained by Russian authorities over a scant amount of cannabis oil. While there were many things she was likely looking forward to doing once she got home, she apparently had one specific request during the 18-hour flight back to America. She wanted to talk.
“I have been in prison for 10 months now, listening to Russian. I want to talk,” Griner said, according to Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who was part of the effort to get Griner released as part of a prisoner swap.
She then asked Carstens, referring to other people on the plan: “But, first of all, who are these guys?”
“And she moved right past me and went to every member on that crew, looked them in the eyes, shook their hands and asked about them, got their names, making a personal connection with them,” Carstens said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It was really amazing.”
Carstens said that she spent 12 of the 18 hours talking with people on the plane.
“I was left with the impression this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person,” Carstens said. “But above all, authentic. I hate the fact that I had to meet her in this manner, but I actually felt blessed having had a chance to get to know her.”
Griner continued to put that long-gestating energy to work when she landed and took part in a workout where she got to dunk a basketball for the first time in 10 months.