Love and basketball. Brittney Griner is one of the best athletes in the WNBA — and she always has her sweetheart, Cherelle Griner, cheering her on from the sidelines.
The Olympic gold medalist and the teacher met as undergraduates at Baylor University in Texas while Brittney was making a name for herself as one of the best college basketball players of all time. They didn’t start dating until years later, however, when they reconnected after the athlete split from her first wife, Glory Johnson.
“I will never forget the day I met you at Baylor in the sub area!” Brittney wrote via Instagram in June 2020. “You tapped me on my shoulder and told me I took your milkshake (still up for debate lol) and I was immediately blown away at your beauty! You had no idea but I knew you were the one for me baby. You stuck by my side at the lowest and at the highest!”
The Phoenix Mercury center proposed to Cherelle in August 2018, and the duo tied the knot nearly one year later. Since then, the pair have repeatedly gushed over each other on social media, sharing snaps from vacations and commemorating their relationship milestones.
“Everyday with you is spectacular but when I get to celebrate your life and all that you are is just breathtaking ❤️!” Brittney wrote via Instagram in July 2020 to celebrate her spouse’s birthday. “To many more my love.”
In 2022, the couple became the subject of international news when the basketball star was detained in Russia on drug charges. Brittney was in the country playing with the EuroLeague team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.
By the time the news broke in the United States in March 2022, Brittney had already been detained for two weeks. Officials were initially worried that an aggressive response could hurt her chances of a safe return amid Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, but in May 2022, the U.S. State Department said that Russia had “wrongfully detained” the Texas native.
“It’s an absolutely unimaginable situation for for BG,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told Time after the State Department’s reclassification. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not working on this in some way. It was a really positive development for her case to be transferred into the part of the State Department that’s called the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. When you get this designation of being detained, not under the best conditions, they’ve shown success at getting people out.”
Cherelle, for her part, supported her wife from afar, sharing videos on social media of Brittney’s time on the court. “Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia,” she wrote via Instagram in March 2022. “Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life.”
In December 2022, Cherelle was a beaming sight at the White House as President Joe Biden announced that her wife had been released from Russian custody.
“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along,” Biden said during a press release as Cherelle and Vice President Kamala Harris stood beside him.
“This is a day we’ve worked towards for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release,” he added.
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Keep scrolling for a look back at Brittney and Cherelle’s complete relationship timeline.