At the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction Saturday, Penny Taylor opened her speech by calling on President Biden to bring Brittney Griner home.
“Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for 114 days,” the three-time WNBA champion said. “BG is our family. She’s yours, too. The entire global sport community needs to come together to insist that she be a priority.”
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star, plays for Taylor’s former team, the Phoenix Mercury. Taylor’s wife Diana Taurasi, who escorted her to the induction, is Griner’s teammate. Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 after vape cartridges containing hashish oil allegedly were found in her luggage at an airport.
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Two other inductees at the Tennessee Theatre, three-time WNBA champion DeLisha Milton-Jones and DePaul coach Doug Bruno, took time in their speeches to demand Griner’s safe return. Bruno worked with Griner several times as an assistant coach for Team USA.
“Brittney is a great human being, and no one deserves what she is going through,” Bruno said. “Enough is absolutely enough. It is time for the powers that be to bring Brittney Griner home.”
Bruno also paid tribute to the late legendary Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt in his speech, remembering many trips to Tennessee with DePaul to play against Summitt’s teams.
“You can’t think about being here in Knoxville, being on this stage and not think about what Coach Summitt passed on to each and every one of us,” he said. “We played 20 times, I’m a Hall of Fame coach, and I was 0-20 against Coach Summitt.”
After speaking about Griner, Taylor dedicated much of her speech to her family. Taurasi, who has been married to Taylor for five years, flew overnight from a game in Phoenix on Friday to attend the induction. The 10-time WNBA All-Star was also celebrating her 40th birthday.
“‘I’m so grateful for basketball and all the experiences that it’s brought me, but mostly for introducing me to my love,” Taylor said, then joked to her wife, “If you continue to work hard, you, too, may be up here.”
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eaadams6.