It is not easy to be a popular basketball player and not have the media’s cameras watching every step. But for Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, her life was put on complete public display in 2022.

Still, ever since her return from the “hell” in Russia, the 2x Olympics gold medalist for Team USA has been trying to normalize her life and clear her name for being a non-American. One step in that was talking about her experience playing overseas and how it turned her life around. But is that for better or worse?

WNBA star Brittney Griner sent to Russian penal colony to serve nine-year  sentence - National |

Recently, Griner talked to her friend and Sue Bird’s wife, Megan Rapinoe on The Cut. She reflected on how it was growing up as a child to a Marine vet and a law enforcement officer and how people would still attack her for not loving her homeland.

Mercury’s veteran said, “The weirdest thing for me was being labeled non-American or anti-American.” Continuing on the path, she added, “My dad was a legit Marine, Vietnam ’68 to ’69. He fought for our country, then went into law enforcement for 30-plus years. He saw a lot, a lot, especially back then.”

Who is Raymond Griner: Everything you need to know about Brittney Griner's  father - YEN.COM.GH

Brittney Griner also cleared how much she was an American by disclosing her plans if basketball did not become a part of her.

She said, “I came into basketball in ninth grade, so I was a late bloomer in it. Before that, I wanted to go into the military. When everybody asked me ‘What would you do if you weren’t in basketball?’ I would’ve probably been a cop. My life would’ve been way different.” This is also something that she opens up in her new release, ‘Coming Home.’

Still, the public, who knew her as a hooper from Baylor and Phoenix, criticized her. According to Griner, it was “because I’ve protested against police brutality, and all of this, I’m labeled as un-American.” However, she does have an explanation which she wishes people to understand.

“Makes me more American”: Brittney Griner strikes back at the haters

The 2014 WNBA champion was in the Russian IK-2 Yavas for most of her 293 days-long imprisonment. There, the other inmates knew her as “The American.” However, she did not get the same recognition in her own country. Her active presence in protests against the cops was one of the major reasons behind it. And this was long before the 33-year-old went to play her last season for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Talking about it, she said, “I’m like, ‘What? That makes me more American using my right to protest.’ What do you mean? People die for standing up for their rights in other countries, and we’re lucky enough to be able to fight for our country. And just because I love something doesn’t mean I can’t challenge it.”

The 6-ft-9 center also drew a parallel between her relationship to America and any other connection saying, “In most relationships, if you love something or love somebody, you’re going to challenge them, too, and you’re going to call out bullsh*t when you see bullsh*t. Hopefully, people are mature enough to understand that.”

While the 8x WNBA blocks leader is returning back to her life, trying to relearn everything, she is also expecting a huge change. She, along with her wife, Cherelle, will be soon welcoming a baby boy, Bash Raymond Griner.

Hopefully, with this change, the 2024 WNBA season right around the corner, and her book ‘Coming Home’ releasing today, she will have her hands full and mind away from the past.