Brittney Griner's Dad Wrote Her The Most Supportive Letter During Her Imprisonment

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Everything To Know About Brittney Griner's ParentsMichael Hickey - Getty Images

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Brittney Griner has always had her very first fans in her corner.

In a May 1 20/20 special, the WNBA star opened up about her Russian imprisonment with Good Morning America host Robin Roberts. During the interview, she detailed some of the harrowing conditions of her detainment, including frigid temperatures, hard labor, spider infestations, and more.

Brittney, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested in Moscow in February 2022 for possessing vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil. She was sentenced to nine years in prison, but ultimately released in December of that same year in a prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The values instilled in her by her parents, Raymond and Sandra Griner, were a key part of her decision to plead guilty in August 2022.

“My parents taught me two important things,” she read in a statement at the time. “One, to take ownership for your responsibilities. And two, to work hard for everything that you have. That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand the charges that are against me...but I had no intent to break any Russian law. I want the court to understand that it was an honest mistake that I made while rushing and in stress.”

Now, Brittney is detailing her 10-month ordeal, and how she's relied on the support of her friends, family, and wife Cherelle Griner to heal. Here’s everything to know about Brittney’s parents, Raymond and Sandra Griner.

Who are Brittney Griner’s parents?

Brittney grew up in the Bellewood neighborhood of Houston with her three siblings: an older sister, and two older half-siblings from her dad's previous marriage, per The New York Times. Her parents are named Raymond and Sandra Griner.

Her dad Raymond is a two-tour Vietnam veteran.

Brittney’s father Raymond is a Vietnam vet, who did two tours in 1968 and 1969, he told FOX26 upon Brittney’s return. He's currently retired after working as a Houston-area police officer for years.

“I would say out of everything in my life that I’ve experienced, in my 73 years, this has been the most important thing to me,” he told the outlet. “More important that when I spent ’68 and ’69 in Vietnam in the jungle for two years. This is the most important thing and means the most to me because she’s my baby.”

During Brittney's childhood, Raymond "governed the household with a severity rooted in paranoia," the Times writes. She was not permitted to sleep over at friends' houses, or play outside of her yard.

Raymond wasn’t initially accepting of Brittney’s sexuality.

Originally, Raymond had a tough time accepting Brittney’s sexuality, which was difficult for the self-proclaimed "daddy’s girl."

When she came out during her freshman year of high school, Ray announced, "I ain't raising no gay girl," per ESPN. He forbade friends—male or female—to visit; when Brittney was a senior, she moved out for a few months, staying with the junior varsity basketball coach.

The two have since reconciled, and Brittney relied on him for support throughout her imprisonment. During her detainment in Russia, wrote him a letter, saying she would "never let you down like this again," according to the Times.

Weeks later, she got his reply. “I love you and always will, no matter where you are. Nothing and nobody can change that.”

Her mom Sandra was “gentle.”

Meanwhile, Brittney's mother was gentle and accepting, especially when Brittney was coming to terms with her sexuality, the Times writes.

Brittney leaned on her mom and siblings heavily during that time, according to a 2013 ESPN profile. When she came out to older brother Decarlo, he joked with her, saying, "It ain't no thang. We've known since you were in diapers."

How tall are Brittney Griner’s parents?

Brittney's parents aren't as tall as her. (She now stands at 6 feet and 9 inches tall.) Raymond is 6'2" and Sandra is 5'8", per the Houston Chronicle.

Initially, the couple was even concerned about their daughter's rapid growth spurt in middle school, the Times writes. They even tested her to make sure nothing was wrong. "No illness; just luck," the outlet says.

They advocated for her release from Russian prison.

Along with her wife Cherelle, Brittney's parents advocated for her freedom, sharing a sweet reunion with their daughter upon her return, the Times says. Raymond and Sandra supported her—and other Americans detained abroad, like former Marine Paul Whelan—the entire time.

"We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to President Biden and his administration for the tireless work they did to bring Brittney home," a Dec. 2022 statement from Brittney's family reads, per People. "We sincerely thank you all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers—including Paul and the Whelan family, who have been generous with their support for Brittney and our family during what we know is a heartbreaking time. We pray for Paul and for the swift and safe return of all wrongfully-detained Americans."

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