Brittney Griner shares emotional journey through intrusive thoughts during 10-month ordeal in Russia

In a special "20/20" interview airing May 1, Griner tearfully guides "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts through her entire experience in Russia, from her arrest to her nine-year prison sentence and release. 

Brittney Griner is sharing intimate details about her life behind bars for the first time since her release.

According to People magazine, the WNBA star has previously spoken about her detainment, but in an interview airing May 1, she tearfully guides “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts through her entire 10-month ordeal in Russia, from her arrest to her nine-year prison sentence and her release. 

During the interview, a one-hour “20/20” special, the nine-time All-Star recalls battling suicidal thoughts, describing a moment when a knife was readily available to her.

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner, shown in February at the NAACP Image Awards, sat for an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts to recount her detainment in Russia. The interview is set to air on May 1. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/AP, File)

She also gave emotional insight into the harsh conditions she faced inside Russia’s notorious penal colony, telling Roberts her mattress “had a huge blood stain on it” and that “I had no soap, no toilet paper.”

“That was the moment where I just felt less than a human,” she said, adding that she was “just so scared for everything.”

Griner was arrested in February 2022 at a Moscow airport for possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She was sentenced to a nine-year prison term. Then on Dec. 8, 2022, the United States and Russia conducted a prisoner swap, trading Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. 

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The two-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA returned to basketball in May 2023, continuing her WNBA career with the Phoenix Mercury.

People reported that the one-hour “20/20” special, titled “Prisoner in Russia: The Brittney Griner Interview,” will also have interviews with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, and Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy of hostage affairs Roger Carstens.

Griner’s memoir about her detainment, “Coming Home,” is set to be released on May 7.