An Open Letter to Welcome Home Brittney Griner

When will you return to the W.N.B.A., your Phoenix Mercury teammates, and the U.S. national team you helped lead to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics?

Roughly a decade ago, you became one of the first Black and openly lesbian headliners in women’s basketball. In your trademark soft-spoken manner, you pushed for racial and social change in America. So will you use this moment to become an even more powerful advocate?

Will you do more, Brittney?

“What’s next” is an understandable query, but I hope folks pump the brakes.

Brittney, you shouldn’t feel you owe anything more than the gratitude you’ve already expressed to those who stood by your side and worked for your release.

You have done more than enough. Don’t feel you have to do anything but heal.

During this ordeal, we all saw the anguish and tears of your wife, Cherelle Griner. She, no surprise, has said the two of you will speak up for Americans the State Department has said were wrongly detained in other countries, including Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018.

Before all this happened, you might not have been well-known outside of sports circles. Now, more and more people have heard about how you were part of a wave of W.N.B.A. players who spoke up for racial injustice. More know that you have fought to help L.G.B.T.Q. people and those without homes in Phoenix.

So it’s exciting to think about your next move and how you can use your platform for good.

When I spoke to Vince Kozar, the Mercury’s president, this week, he mentioned the letters you exchanged over the last several months. “At all times, she was asking about other people,” said Kozar, your boss and friend. “Her concern was about other people. First and foremost, she asked how her teammates were doing, asking us to ensure we were taking care of her wife.”

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