Brittney Griner is urging fans to support Paul Whelan

The recently-released athlete shared a handwritten note that’s both heartwarming and heart-breaking.

US Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detaine...
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Brittney Griner is finally home, and after spending nearly 10 months detained in Russia for carrying less than a gram of medically-prescribed hash oil, she’s using her platform to advocate for the release of other wrongfully detained prisoners. In a Dec. 21 Instagram post, Griner shared a handwritten letter encouraging her followers to support former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was detained in Moscow on suspicion of spying while attending a friend’s wedding in 2018. U.S. officials say Whelan was falsely convicted. Griner’s post is both encouraging and heartbreaking, and it shows just how much a little support can mean during difficult times.

"Thanks to the efforts of many, including you, I am home after nearly 10 months," Griner wrote alongside a picture of her handwritten note. She now hopes to rally her followers to similarly advocate for Whelan’s return home. “There are many families with loved ones wrongfully detained,” she wrote. “Those families stood alongside you and all who supported the WeAreBG Campaign to bring me home, and it’s our turn to support them.” Griner also included Whelan’s mailing address through the American Citizen Services Unit Consular and invited followers to join her in writing to him, just as they did for her.

When she was released from detainment, Griner and her wife vowed to fight for Whelan, as well as the many other prisoners who have been wrongfully held in different countries. “B.G. is not here to say this, but I will gladly speak on her behalf and say that B.G. and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul [Whelan], whose family is in our hearts today,” Cherelle Griner said in a Dec. 8 statement. “We do understand that there are still people out here who are enduring what I endured the last nine months of missing tremendously their loved ones.”

While she was imprisoned, Griner received continued support from family, friends, and fans who urged her to stay strong during what was undoubtedly one of the most difficult times in her life. Griner also emphasized how the encouragement from her supporters not only uplifted her, but demonstrated the power of unified strength. “Your letters were also bigger than uplifting me. They showed the power of collective hands,” she wrote. “Together, we can do hard things. I’m living proof of that.”