PHOENIX, AZ. (THECOUNT) — WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was released from Russian imprisonment in a highly controversial prisoner swap in December 2022, will share her harrowing experience for the first time in an exclusive interview airing on a special edition of “20/20” on May 1.

Griner, 33, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and nine-time WNBA All-Star who recently re-signed to the Phoenix Mercury for her 11th season, will reflect on the “mental lapse” that led to her months-long detention in Russia when vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage, according to ABC News.


“I could just visualize everything I worked so hard for just crumbling and going away,” Griner told ABC’s Robin Roberts. “And then to be somewhere where there’s no understanding.”

Griner, who was detained on Feb. 17, 2022, at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki after the cartridges were found, pleaded guilty to drug charges on July 7, 2022, saying that the vape cartridges containing hashish oil were in her luggage unintentionally.

“This was a mistake. It was an accident, which I understand accidents have repercussions,” Griner said. “And I’m American in Russia where relations aren’t the best. You know?”

Griner’s family, including her wife Cherelle Griner, were outspoken advocates for her release and continuously called on the Biden White House to intervene and bring her home. The U.S. State Department classified Griner’s case as “wrongfully detained” in May 2022, and the Biden administration “worked for months” to secure her release. She was sentenced to nine years in prison on Aug. 4, 2022, but amid mounting pressure on the White House to strike a deal and bring her home, the U.S. agreed to swap Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, and she was released on Dec. 8, 2022, after nearly 10 months in prison.

Griner announced exclusively to “GMA” on Feb. 6 that she is set to release a new memoir on May 7 titled, “Coming Home” – a book that will detail her harrowing incarceration in Russia and subsequent release.