Brittney Griner Cut Her Hair Inside Russian Penal Colony to Avoid Freezing

"Every time she washed her hair she got cold and would get a chill," her lawyer told ESPN

Brittney Griner release
Brittney Griner.

Fans of Brittney Griner noticed something different about the WNBA star's appearance in the footage of her release from Russian custody on Thursday.

The 32-year-old athlete was no longer sporting her signature long hair, despite having kept it at her usual length through most of her detainment.

One of Griner's Russian lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, told ESPN that the Phoenix Mercury star decided to cut her hair because of the harsh conditions in the Mordovia penal colony where she was serving out her nine-year sentence.

"It's very cold in there and every time she washed her hair she got cold and would get a chill," Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners, said.

Brittney Griner release
Brittney Griner.

Griner had recently come down with the flu, her lawyer told ESPN, and the athlete seemed to be preparing for colder months ahead with the decision to cut her hair.

Blagovolina previously told PEOPLE that the transfer to Mordovia's penal colony was "a very challenging period for her" and had Griner "very stressed" as she was "trying to adjust to new surroundings."

Despite the harsh conditions, Blagovolina said that Griner "is a fighter" and while it was "extremely challenging for her," the WNBA star "did really great" adapting to life in the penal colony.

Griner arrived in San Antonio on Friday morning to receive medical attention and reunite with her family.

RELATED VIDEO: Brittney Griner Lands in U.S. After Russian Prison Release: 'Welcome Home BG!'

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The Phoenix Mercury star is reportedly "in good health" and will be "offered a wide range of support options" as she returns home, a senior White House official said Thursday, according to CNN.

On Thursday, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert stressed that this is "a critical time" for the athlete and her family. "We're going to give her the appropriate space and time for that and then follow what Brittney and her family want to do about re-engaging with the WNBA."

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