Brittney Griner of the WNBA stood for the national anthem before her team’s game against the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday.
Griner stood for the national anthem for the first time in years. It came after she was rescued in a prisoner swap by the US government after being convicted of drug possession by a Russian court, sentenced to 10 years of hard labor, and imprisoned in that country.
“You have the right to protest, the right to able to speak out, question, challenge and do all these things,” Griner said after the game. “What I went through and everything, it just means a little bit more to me now. So I want to be able to stand. I was literally in a cage and could not stand the way I wanted to, according to the Deadline.
“Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand. Now everybody that will not stand or not come out totally supports them 100%. That’s our right, as an American in this great country,” she said.
Griner said her ordeal in a Russian prison has instilled a new sense of gratitude.
“I appreciate everything a little bit more, all of the small moments, like, ‘Oh, I’m so tired I don’t want to go to practice today,’ that has changed, honestly,” she added. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. I feel a lot older somehow, too.”
Griner was a vocal supporter of national anthem shows in the past, arguing that players should not stand and that the song should not be performed before games.