Stephen Curry offered fellow basketball star Brittney Griner a high-profile show of support Tuesday, as the WNBA player marked her 32nd birthday behind bars in Russia.
Hours after Griner released a message thanking those fighting to get her home, Curry spoke out in the middle of the Golden State Warriors’ championship ring ceremony Tuesday.
“We want to continue to use our platform and the opportunity to shout out a very special member of the basketball community,” Curry told the crowd ahead of the opening night game against the Los Angeles Lakers. “Brittney Griner’s birthday is today, she’s 32 years old.”
“We want to continue to let her name be known and we pray,” the NBA star said, noting it had been 243 days “since she was wrongfully incarcerated in Russia.”
“We hope that she comes home soon, that everybody’s doing their part to get her home,” he said.
Griner has been awaiting a hearing in Russia later this month after her defense team filed an appeal against her conviction on drug charges in Russia.
The WNBA star was arrested at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17 after authorities said they found cannabis-infused vape cartridges in her luggage. Griner pleaded guilty to the charges, saying she made an “honest mistake” in entering Russia with cannabis oil, which is illegal in the country, after she had hurriedly packed for her flight.
She was sentenced on Aug. 4 to nine years in Russian prison after being found guilty of drug possession and smuggling.
The U.S. government has maintained that Griner was wrongfully detained and had offered to exchange her and Paul Whelan, a corporate executive who has been detained in Russia since 2018, for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S., two sources familiar with the matter previously said. But so far, no such deal appears to have been reached.
Griner issued her own statement on her birthday, thanking her supporters for continuing to fight for release.
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home,” Griner said in a statement made through her attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, who spent time with the WNBA star on her birthday and relayed birthday messages to her. “All the support and love are definitely helping me,” she said.
“Today is of course a difficult day for Brittney. Not only this is her birthday in jail away from her family, teammates and friends, but she is very stressed in anticipation of the appeal hearing on 25 October,” Blagovolina said in a separate statement.
Austin Mullen and The Associated Press contributed.