SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After a ten-month detention, WNBA star Brittney Griner was freed from a Russian prison in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
"She's safe, she's on a plane, she's on her way home," announced President Joe Biden, from the White House Thursday.
In February the two-time Olympian was arrested at a Moscow airport for carrying vape cartridges containing hash oil. She was found guilty on drug smuggling charges and sentenced to nine years in prison; setting off a swelling of support from the sports world.
"I had just gotten up and my phone was blowing up," Tara VanDerveer, head coach of the Stanford Women's Basketball team. "I was so excited to hear the news, I called my sister and just spread the news."
The U.S. and Russia agreed to swap Griner for convicted Russian Arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence. Both Griner and Bout were pardoned before being exchanged in Abu Dhabi overnight.
Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner spoke at the White House Thursday. "The most important emotion I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration," she said.
Griner's agent and East Bay native Lindsay Colas sent a statement to ABC7 News, reading in part:
"We are overwhelmed with gratitude to President Biden, Vice President Harris and the entire Biden-Harris Administration... in equal measure, we are so thankful to the incredible community of advisors, athletes, and advocates."
"Just keeping her name first and foremost for everyone to say, 'this is not right and we need something to be done about it,' and just stay with it and be persistent," said VanDerveer.
"Brittney, I just want to tell you on behalf of the entire Warriors organization we are so thrilled for you and your family," said Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr in a video message. "Unbelievable perseverance you've shown just to make it through your time in Russia and we're so happy you're coming home."
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