Baylor University students relieved former star basketball player Brittney Griner is coming home

FILE - In this March 10, 2012, file photo, Baylor center Brittney Griner (42) celebrates after...
FILE - In this March 10, 2012, file photo, Baylor center Brittney Griner (42) celebrates after the victory over Texas A&M in an NCAA college basketball championship game at the women's Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo. The Lady Bears are ranked at the top of the preseason women's basketball poll by The Associated Press for the second straight year. Baylor had the No. 1 spot for the entire season last year en route to its second national championship and a 40-0 record. (AP Photo/Jeff Tuttle, File)(Jeff Tuttle | AP)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 4:55 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Before Brittney Griner was a WNBA star, she was a star basketball player for the Baylor Bears and some current Baylor University students grew up watching her play.

“I never really paid attention to women’s basketball until she was on the team because she was so good. I just remember growing up watching her on the TV like, ‘Wow, she’s so cool,’” said freshman, Callie Carlstone.

Carlstone said she feared for Griner and her family when she heard Griner would have to serve a nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

“I was kind of worried for her family and friends at home because that would be super hard to be far away from someone and not know if they’re ok,” said Carlstone.

Sophomore, Luke Martin, said he’s relieved that Griner is coming home safe and sound, but some wonder if the situation was a political move.

“Nine years, I think, kind of seems excessive to me, personally, for something that was very small. And not being from there originally, I think it’s more of a threat towards the U.S as a whole. It’s just good to hear that she’s back and hopefully that relationships can be amended,” said Martin.

Martin said the Baylor community holds strong relationships with one another, which makes Griner’s situation hit home.

“I think it makes things a little bit more personal just because this community has very tight knit relationships with one another. We care a lot for each other,” said Martin.

Freshman, Chase Barto, said he’s extremely empathetic to the possible trauma Griner will likely face.

“There’s probably a lot of negativity around the given situation. I can only imagine what she feels right now,” said Barto.

Although Griner has been through tough times, Barto said the Baylor Bears will always have her back.

“Within Baylor, there’s many different types of people and we’re all here for each other, here to support. So, I wouldn’t say that represents Baylor, but I would say Baylor is still here for her at the same time,” said Barto.

Below is a university statement from Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone and Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV:

“Brittney Griner is a member of our Baylor Family, and we are extremely grateful that she is on her way back home to the United States. We praise God this day has finally come.

“Our hearts go out to Brittney and her family as they have endured months of separation, and we continue to pray as she recovers from this incredibly challenging time.

“While we celebrate Brittney’s release, our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to fellow American Paul Whelan and his family, as well as all Americans unjustly imprisoned overseas – that they will be freed and can return home safely and promptly.”