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WNBA Player Brittney Griner, Who Previously Protested National Anthem, Said ‘Star Spangled Banner’ ‘Hit Different’ After Being Freed From Russia


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WNBA player Brittney Griner had a new-found appreciation of the national anthem in her return to basketball on Friday night. Previously, Griner protested the national anthem.

Griner played in her first WNBA game on Friday since the Phoenix Mercury basketball player had been held in a Russian prison for 10 months. Griner missed the entire 2022 WNBA season.

Griner had been detained in Russia after being arrested and pleading guilty to drug charges related to having cannabis oil vape canisters in her luggage. Griner had been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, but was brought back to the United States last December after the U.S. government made a prisoner swap with Russia.

Griner stood tall with teammates during the national anthem in her first game back at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,” Griner toldreporters after the Mercury game. “It’s like when you go for the Olympics, you’re sitting there, about to get gold put on your neck, the flags are going up and the anthem is playing, it just hits different.

“Being here today, it means a lot,” she added.

“I’m grateful to be here, that’s for sure,” Griner said, before vowing, “I’m not going to take a day for granted.”

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