Brittney Griner's Wife Shares First Instagram Post After WNBA Star's Release From Russian Prison

"To care for another, a stranger to some, a friend to some— is humanity in its purest form," Cherelle Griner wrote

Brittney Griner's wife Cherelle is opening up about their "journey to heal," and thanking those who helped her along the way, as she advocated for her wife's return from a Russian prison for several months.

In her first Instagram post since Brittney's return to the U.S. this week, Cherelle — who married the WNBA star in 2019 — wrote that her "heart was made whole thanks to the collective efforts of MANY," as she shared a collage of faces who helped Brittney get back home.

Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug charges, was released in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout on Thursday, CBS News reported, citing a U.S. official.

In her Instagram post on Saturday, Cherelle personally thanked more than 50 people by name — including Joy Reid, Gayle King, Robin, Roberts, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Tamika Mallory, and three congress people — for their work in getting Brittney back to the states. She also thanked a few organizations, the Biden-Harris Administration, and SPEHA.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 08: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury kisses her wife Cherelle Griner in the stands after the Mercury defeated the Las Vegas Aces 87-84 in Game Five of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs semifinals to win the series at Michelob ULTRA Arena on October 8, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty

"I'm humbled by their hearts," she wrote. "To care for another, a stranger to some, a friend to some— is humanity in its purest form! As BG and I start our journey to heal our minds, bodies, and spirits— I wanted to personally say thank you to some of the hands; seen and unseen, that helped make it possible for me to see my wife again!"

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"I appreciate each and every one of you," Cherelle continued. "Let's continue to use our hands, voices, platforms, and resources to bring Paul [Whelan] and all Americans home. All families deserve to be whole! Love, Cherelle Griner ❤️🤍💙"

Cherelle Griner (C), wife of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced her release of from Russian custody, with Vice President Kamala Harris in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on December 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Cherelle Griner. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

On Thursday, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert confirmed that Griner was on her way to San Antonio, where she met with Cherelle and reunited with her parents after having been detained in Russia for 10 months.

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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Griner is "in good health" and will be "offered a wide range of support options" as she returns home, a senior White House official said Thursday. The exchange agreement between Griner and Bout was reportedly negotiated with Moscow and approved Biden last Thursday. Paul Whelan, another American who remains jailed in Russia, was not included in the swap, CNN reported.

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