Brittney Griner cut her hair in Russia prison as her hair was freezing
Basketball star Brittney Griner has landed back in the US after a prisoner swap with Russia – but without one of her signature features.
The WNBA player arrived in Texas on Friday morning without her shoulder-length locks. Fans first noticed Griner’s new short hair in a video of her released on Thursday hours after the trade with arms dealer Viktor Bout was announced.
Griner told her attorneys that she chopped her locks two Sundays ago to make life easier during the Russian winter, one of them, Maria Blagovolina, told ESPN. Griner’s decision reflected her belief at the time that she would be living in the IK-2 prison for the foreseeable future.
‘It’s very cold in there and every time she washed her hair she got cold and would get a chill,’ said Blagovolina. ‘She should have waited until New Year’s Day.’
Griner had long locks for years, rarely trimming them shorter than shoulder length.
She got the flu while incarcerated, but was recovering, according to her lawyer.
Griner touched down before dawn at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland after going to the United Arab Emirates, where she was exchanged with the ‘Merchant of Death’ Bout.
‘She was in very, very good spirits when she got off the plane and appeared to be, obviously, in good health,’ White House spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC.
Griner was convicted of possessing two cannabis oil cartridges while entering Russia and was serving a nine-year sentence in a penal colony. She had been detained since February.
Her new hairdo was first revealed in a video shown by Russian state television on Thursday. The first clip showed the 6-foot-9 player working at the prison, where she was tasked with carrying fabric all day because she was too tall to sit at sewing worktables. Griner wore a headscarf in that clip, but the next one showed her short hair as she signed papers in a room.
Griner wore a beanie in a subsequent video of her sitting in a plane in her journey back home. She replied, ‘happy’, when asked to describe her mood.
‘Are you ready for a flight?’ asked a person outside the video frame.
‘Yes,’ said Griner with a smile.
Griner was set to be examined by medical personnel in Texas before going back home to Phoenix, where she played for the Mercury.
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