Brittney Griner's wife pleas for Russian leniency ahead of WNBA All-Star Game

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Brittney Griner's wife pleas leniency for WNBA star in Russia originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges in Russian court, her wife Cherelle Griner join other leaders in Chicago on Friday urging mercy from overseas.

Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, spoke aside the basketball player's wife as they asked faith leaders to pray for Brittney Griner, who faces up to 10 years in prison.

"You guys did the unthinkable by making her presence still known and visible, even in her absence," Cherelle Griner said.

She thanked fans for their love and support, while remaining hopeful of Brittney Griner's safe return.

Many in women's basketball are gathered in Chicago this weekend for the WNBA's All-Star Weekend. Friday festivities included the Her Time to Play and AT&T clinic, which ran at the practice courts at McCormick Place, followed by a WNBA Orange Carpet event at 6 p.m.

“Brittney has admitted to making a mistake, and I hope the Russian authorities recognize that humbling act and respond with compassion,” Sharpton said in a release. “She is in the fight of her life right now, which is why we’ll be in Chicago to show our support for Brittney and for the Administration and their efforts to bring her home as soon as possible. We must all continue to pray she finds strength through this challenging time.”

The guilty plea by the Phoenix Mercury star and two-time Olympic gold medalist came amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her freedom nearly five months after her arrest amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine.

According to a release, the White House said President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Cherelle Griner on the phone. During the call, Biden read a note to Cherelle Griner that he planned to send her wife in response to her plea.

The note was delivered to Brittney Griner just prior to her guilty plea, the release said.

A senior Russian diplomat said earlier that no action could be taken by Moscow on Griner’s case until the trial was over, and her guilty plea could be an effort by her and her advisers to expedite the court proceedings.

Griner, 31, was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport while returning to play basketball in Russia, and police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

Speaking through an interpreter, Griner told the court that she had no intention of committing a crime and had acted unintentionally because she had packed for Moscow in a hurry. The trial was then adjourned until July 14.