In an Instagram post on Friday, Griner wrote that she is "grateful" to each person who helped bring her back home and says she will work to bring other American prisoners home.
"President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too," Griner wrote. "I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole."
Whelan’s brother David said last week in a statement that he was "so glad" for Griner’s release but also disappointed for his family. He credited the White House with giving the Whelan family advance notice and said he did not fault officials for making the deal.
"The Biden administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen," he said.
Griner also thanked the military staff and medical team in Texas, where she was receiving care after returning to the U.S. last week. She wrote that she would "transition home to enjoy the holidays with my family" but did not say where.
Griner returning to Mercury
The WNBA star also says she will return to the Phoenix Mercury for the upcoming season.
While WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said she was going to give Griner all the time she needed to decide whether she wanted to play basketball again, Griner made it clear that: "I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon."
"Amazing timing for her to be home before the holidays," Engelbert told the Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "It’s a great story for all who know her."
Griner was freed from prison in exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout after she was arrested and sentenced to nine years for drug smuggling.
Back in February, Griner was taken into custody at an airport in Moscow for bringing vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through the facility.
The Mercury kick off the 2023 season on May 19 at the Los Angeles Sparks. The Mercury's first home game is two days later against the Chicago Sky.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 25: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury drives to the basket as Natasha Howard #6 of the New York Liberty defends during the second half at Barclays Center on August 25, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Mercury won 106-79. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brittney Griner's full statement
"I am grateful to each person who advocated for me, especially my wife, Cherelle Griner, my family, Lindsay Kagawa Colas and Casey Wasserman and my whole team at Wasserman, Vince Kozar and the Phoenix Mercury, the players of the WNBA, and my entire WNBA family, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, my Russian legal team Maria Blagovolina and Alex Boykov, the leaders, activists, and grassroots organizations, Gov. Richardson and Mickey Bergman of the Richardson Center, the Bring Our Families Home Campaign, Roger Carstens and the SPEHA team, and of course, a special thank you to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken and the entire Biden-Harris Administration.
President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too. I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole.
As I transition home to enjoy the holidays with my family, I want to acknowledge and thank the entire PISA staff and medical team at the San Antonio Fort Hood Base. I appreciate the time and care to make sure I was okay and equipped with the tools for this new journey.
I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon.