STANFORD, Calif. — South Carolina coach Don Staley and Stanford coach Tara Vandeverere donned long-sleeved shirts in tribute Brittney Griner As part of a series of efforts to support the detained WNBA star during their team’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 game on Sunday at Maples Pavilion.
The coaches gathered together in court before the game for a minute’s silence for Griner, who is in jail in Russia after being convicted in August on drug charges. The Phoenix Mercury The center was arrested in February in Moscow and is currently serving its 276th day in confinement as of Sunday. The US State Department has classified Graner as “unjustly detained.”
Stanford also set up a letter-writing station at Maples Concourse on Sundays to send cards to Griner, collecting hundreds of letters.
“I went up and wrote a letter,” said Staley, who donned a “Free BG” cap after the Gamecocks won 76-71 in overtime. “Tara is leading this campaign on this very campus, and we both know Britney. She’s been part of our basketball family, and she’s fighting for her life. I know there are other wrongfully held Americans, and we obviously want them all to come home, but when To have a relationship and friendship with someone is personal.
“It’s a personal fight for us to get her home, and every little bit counts. Every little bit, every letter. … If it’s a loved one, a loved one, she’ll fight for them. I think there’s a road-maker out there who will pave the way for her to come home.” Much sooner than a lot of people expect. I’m one who will think with optimism and prayer that she’ll be home soon.”
The back of the shirts, which were designed by the Playa Society and expected to be available for sale later this month, featured a message to Griner that reads: “Dear BG: We love you and we fight for you. Millions of us raise your name every chance we get.” We’re on it, and we won’t stop until you’re home. We hope our love and support reaches you and finally lets you be free.”
A portion of the profits from the sale of the T-shirts will go to the Bring Our Families Home Campaign and the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, both of which advocate for the rights of Americans detained in other countries.
A moment of silence in support of Griner has been standard practice so far this season at Stanford home games, and players have also worn “BG” patches on their uniforms. A video message in support of Griner appeared on the big screen shortly before the statement.
Grenier won gold medals as part of the US Olympic women’s basketball team in 2016 and 2021, the latter when Staley coached the Americans. Staley played for VanDerveer when the Americans won gold in 1996.
Prior to the game, VanDerveer spoke about some of her memories of Griner from when she was at Baylor. The Griner Bears finished their NCAA title season 40-0 in 2011-12 with a championship game victory over Stanford.
After the match, VanDerveer immediately brought Griner out at her press conference.
“It’s been 276 days since Brittney Grenier was imprisoned in Russia,” Vanderveer said. “Hopefully we can bring attention to that. We’ve said something every game and have a moment of silence for it. We need to bring it home.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.