WNBA player Brittney Griner continues to learn the hard way how bad of a decision it was for her to bring a vape pen into Russia.

Her ordeal continued Thursday when she was sentenced in a Russian court after pleading guilty to drug possession and drug smuggling in July. The judge gave her 9 years in prison, and she was also fined one million rubles, which is equivalent to $16,200. 

Griner did what she could to try to get the judge to go easy on her, but drug laws in Russia are some of the strictest in the world, and it was no surprise she received such a harsh punishment because Russia is using her as a political pawn. Here’s part of Griner’s courtroom apology her team crafted that fell on deaf ears. 

“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake and the embarrassment I brought on them. I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

According to Griner, she made an “honest mistake.” She was returning to the team she plays for in Russia after a break, and she was arrested in February, just weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Griner has played for over six years in Russia, so it seems logical that would be plenty of time to have an understanding of Russian drug laws to try to ensure a mistake like this didn’t happen. She claimed to be using marijuana for pain relief. 

Now, this becomes an international game of high-stakes chicken. Last week, the Biden administration made a substantial offer to spring Griden and Paul Whelan, who is also being held there. Would Biden actually offer Viktor Bout? He’s the “Merchant of Death,” serving 25 years in a U.S. prison for conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens.  

Many people feel it’s an awful lot to give up for a basketball player who admitted to breaking Russian drug laws and will only lead to more kidnappings of Americans who travel overseas. Griner has been a very polarizing figure in the past, making her disdain for the National Anthem known and choosing to kneel as it was played before WNBA games. 

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