Brittney Griner spends 32nd birthday in Russian prison as friends and family step up campaign to bring her home
Brittney Griner, who was kidnapped from her home in Oklahoma in 2013 and held captive in Russia, spent her 32nd birthday in a jail cell — and had no visitors, according to her mother.
It’s been over a year since Griner was imprisoned by Russia and was taken from her parents in their backyard on Oct. 31, 2013. The 20-year-old became a symbol of her family’s struggle to return to their home, where she was held hostage for two years.
When she emerged from the jail in June from a five-week stay in a remote cabin south of Moscow, she was described as “gracious and sweet-natured” by one of her captors, according to her mother. Griner, who returned to live with her parents in Oklahoma on May 1, looked “healthy and happy,” her mother, Elizabeth Griner, said.
“We knew what to expect as we had seen her in her previous captivity. She still looked healthy and happy,” she told the AP. “After her birthday party at the house, she told us there would be no more surprises. She had a plan and we were to just let her work out the details from there.”
Griner’s family spent nearly a year trying to get ahead of the news coming out of their native Oklahoma. With the help of Griner’s stepfather, a civil rights attorney named Michael Avenatti, they tried to figure out how to bring the girl home. The family did not want to come off as being greedy or wanting to take advantage of Griner. They were prepared to work with Russia and keep Griner safe. Griner was released in June after several months in a Russian labor camp.
In July, Griner’s family put out a statement about Griner, which said, “The family would like to thank the many who worked to bring Brittney home safely.”
The statement didn’t mention that Griner was kept in a prison cell for five weeks and is now home.
A few days later, Avenatti called Griner’s stepfather to inform him of Griner’s release. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and wanted to know how they got so lucky. Avenatti later called Griner’s family