Brittney Griner was released from a Russian penal colony Thursday as part of a prisoner swap orchestrated between the United States government and the Russians.
The former Baylor superstar who led the 2012 national championship-winning team and was one of Kim Mulkey's best players during her time with the Bears is in U.S. custody and has been stateside for the first time since being detained in Russia since February.
Over the past several months, Mulkey has not commented on Griner's situation. But the LSU's women's basketball coach offered well wishes to her former standout player in a statement to ESPN.
"God is good. Prayers are powerful. Brittney is on her way home where she belongs," Mulkey told ESPNW's M.A. Voepel. "Our prayers remain with her and her family as they recover and heal together."
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The Daily Advertiser asked Mulkey in September for her thoughts on Griner and she declined, answering: "And you won't."
Griner and Mulkey's relationship has been estranged since 2013 as Griner's time at the school was coming to a close. Griner has said that it was not because of Mulkey but that she felt discouraged to disclose her sexual orientation while at Baylor.
Like numerous other WNBA stars, Griner has played overseas during the league’s offseason to make more money – leagues in several other countries pay their players more – and has played in the top Russian women’s league since 2014.
Griner, 31, was sentenced by a Russian court to nine years in prison Aug. 4, more than six months after initially being detained by Russian customs for carrying hashish oil cartridges into the country. Along with the sentence, the Russian court fined Griner $1 million rubles, or $16,301 in American dollars.
In February, customs officers discovered less than a gram of hashish oil and later arrested her on drug charges, which carried up to a 10-year prison sentence. Griner pleaded guilty in July to the charges, saying she unintentionally put the oil in her luggage as she was in a hurry.
Hashish oil is derived from cannabis, which Griner reportedly uses for medicinal purposes.
President Joe Biden and his administration have been working to free Griner and after what he called a "very painful decision," to release the Russian Viktor Bout, a convicted international arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death," they accomplished their mission.
“I’m proud that today we have made one more family whole again. So welcome home Brittney,” Biden said.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Kim Mulkey breaks silence on Brittney Griner after release from Russia