Brittney Griner’s WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, didn’t forget about their friend and colleague, who is imprisoned in Russia since February.
What’s more, they are pushing hard to keep her spirit up and present within the league and the local community.
The team has teamed up with Griner’s foundation, BG’s Heart & Sole Shoe Drive to help with the shoe collecting, in her absence, reported ESPN. This week, the Mercury revealed in a tweet it has managed to collect more than 3,200 pairs of new or barely used shoes and to raise $27,000 that would be given to Phoenix Rescue Mission.
Over 3,000 people will now have a pair of shoes they didn't have before.— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 31, 2022
𝐁𝐆'𝐬 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭 & 𝐒𝐨𝐥𝐞 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐞 𝐃𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞 set a new record this season collecting more than the first four years combined. Thank you to our players, fans, and @efirstbank 💜 pic.twitter.com/pPemKcd94d
Phoenix Rescue Mission is a charitable organization that provides programs and services for Phoenix residents who are dealing with homelessness, drug addiction and trauma. The Mercury partnered with this organization for three distribution happenings during the season, where the players, coaches, staff, and even fans give away shoes, water, hygiene kits, and other resources to those in need.
The team revealed that this season’s drive raised more shoes than the first four years of the program combined (approximately 2,000 pairs). Griner launched BG’s Heart & Sole Shoe Drive six years ago, after seeing many people without shoes during the hot summer in Phoenix. Her charitable effort has been acknowledged several times with the WNBA Community Assist Award.
Griner, an Olympian and NBA champion, pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia. Her defense centered on the fact that she is a registered medical marijuana patient in her home state, who packed in a hurry and accidentally brought medical cannabis to Russia. She was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony.
After the verdict was read, President Joe Biden said that the nine-year sentence was “unacceptable.”
Since her imprisonment, the Mercury coaches and players have often publicly offered support to Griner. Now, many of them are praying for the proposed prisoner swap to happen to see Griner safe at home.
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