Brittney Griner Recalls Russian Prison Guards Trying to Get Her Into Men's Cell: ‘It’s a Game’

The WNBA star's new book 'Coming Home' arrives this week.

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Brittney Griner is continuing to open up about her incarceration in Russian prison.

The WNBA superstar sat down with MSNBC’s Joy Reid to discuss her experience and her new book, Coming Home. In an exclusive clip from their conversation, Reid asked Griner to describe her initial thoughts when she was being taken to prison.

“Did you think in that moment, 'I, Brittney Griner, am being taken to jail,' or did you think in that moment, ‘Wait a minute, I am a Black queer woman in a country in which I am a super minority and not necessarily an embraced minority, and what in the world is that jail gonna be like for me?’” Reid asked in the video above.

“I was terrified when I was thinking about going to that jail. Because I was like, ‘What game are they gonna play?’” Griner said. “And I soon found one of the games [was] trying to tell me to go into one of the men’s cells. And I’m like, ‘I’m not going in that cell.’ And then the other guard said something in Russian and shook his hand and then they take me to the women’s side. And I was just, like, ‘See, it’s a game,' you know?”

Griner’s conversation with MSNBC is the Phoenix Mercury player's first cable interview since coming home in December 2022. In February of that year, Griner was jailed after Russian authorities found vape cartridges in her luggage at the Moscow airport. Six months later, she was sentenced to nine years in prison, before returning to the U.S. in exchange for imprisoned convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. She ultimately was imprisoned for 10 months, some of which was spent in a penal colony outside of Moscow.

Brittney Griner’s two-part interview with MSNBC airs on May 6 and May at 7 p.m. ET. Watch the Complex-exclusive clip up top, and order her book Coming Home here.

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