Wife of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner opens up for the first time

Cherelle Griner sat down with ABC News’ Robin Roberts and spoke about her wife’s detainment in Russia and the fight to bring her home.
4:59 | 05/27/22

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Transcript for Wife of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner opens up for the first time
AFTER RECLASSIFICATION TO "WRONGFULLY DETAINED," SHE DECIDED TO SHARE THEIR STORY WITH ROBIN ROBERTS. >> THE FIRST WEEK I LAID ON THIS COUCH AND CRIED MY EYEBALLS OUT. I WAS NUMB. I COULDN'T MOVE. AND THEN I SAID, YOU'VE GOT TO GET UP NOW. >> Reporter: WIFE OF BRITTNEY GRINER, SHARELLE. >> THIS IS JUST ME AND B.G. >> Reporter: OPENING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE WNBA ALL-STAR'S DETAINMENT IN RUSSIA AND THE FIGHT TO BRING HER HOME. HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR THE NEWS, AND WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL REACTION? >> SO I FIRST HEARD THE NEWS THROUGH BRITTNEY, ACTUALLY. SHE STARTED TEXTING ME AROUND 2:00 A.M. THAT MORNING. BABE, BABE, BABE, WAKE UP, THEY HAVE ME IN THIS ROOM, I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON. I INSTANTLY TEXT BACK, WHO ARE THEY, AND WHAT ROOM? AND SHE'S LIKE, THE CUSTOMS PEOPLE, THEY JUST GRABBED ME WHEN I WAS GOING THROUGH, AND THEY HAVE ME IN THIS ROOM. SHE SENT ME A MESSAGE AND SAID, THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE MY PHONE ACTION DON'T TEXT ANYMORE. I'M LIKE, CALL ME WHEN YOU CAN. SO THAT WAS IT. >> HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO HAVE COMMUNICATION WITH HER AGAIN AFTER THAT? >> WE'RE WHAT, 96 DAYS? THE PHONE CALL NEVER CAME. >> YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH LETTERS? >> SPORADICALLY HERE AND THERE. I'M GRATEFUL FOR EVEN THAT. >> Reporter: ON FEBRUARY 17th, VIDEO RELEASED BY RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES APPEARS TO SHOW GRINER GOING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY NEAR MOSCOW. AN EMPLOYEE REMOVING A PACKAGE FROM THE 31-YEAR-OLD ATHLETE'S BAG. RUSSIAN STATE MEDIA REPORTING VAPE CARTRIDGES CONTAINING HASHISH OIL WERE FOUND, AN OFFENSE PUNISHABLE BY UP TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON. I KNOW THAT YOU WANT TO SPEAK WITH PRESIDENT BIDEN. >> ABSOLUTELY. I JUST KEEP HEARING THAT HE HAS THE POWER, SHE'S A POLITICAL PAWN. SO IF THEY'RE HOLDING HER BECAUSE THEY WANT YOU TO DO SOMETHING, THEN I WANT YOU TO DO IT. >> I KNOW THAT SECRETARY BLINKEN HAS REACHED OUT TO YOU AND HAS COMMUNICATED TO YOU THAT TOP PRIORITY. DO YOU FEEL THAT'S THE CASE? >> I DON'T KNOW. I WAS GRATEFUL FOR THE CALL. HE SAYS SHE'S TOP PRIORITY, BUT I WANT TO SEE IT. I FEEL LIKE TO SEE IT WOULD BE ME SEEING B.G. ON U.S. SOIL. AT THIS POINT, I DON'T KNOW WHO I'M GETTING BACK WHEN SHE COMES BACK. >> Reporter: GRINER IS NOT THE ONLY AMERICAN DETAINED OVERSEAS. FORMER U.S. MARINE TREVOR REED RECENTLY FREED IN A PRISON SWAP SEEN IN THIS VIDEO ON RUSSIAN STATE TV. ANOTHER MARINE, PAUL WHELAN, HAS BEEN IN RUSSIAN CUSTODY SINCE 2018. >> EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE SEPARATE PEOPLE, SEPARATE ROLES, NO CONNECTION BESIDES WHAT THEY'RE GOING THROUGH IN RUSSIA, I OBVIOUSLY WANT HIM BACK TOO. YOU DON'T WANT ANYBODY TO BE THERE GOING THROUGH WHAT THEY'RE GOING THROUGH. >> SHE HAD SPENT QUITE A BIT OF TIME IN RUSSIA PLAYING FOR THE TEAM THERE. WHAT WAS HER EXPERIENCE LIKE PRIOR TO THIS? >> HONESTLY, GREAT. YOU KNOW YOU ARE A G.O.A.T. AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY PLAY IN RUSSIA. ON THE TEAM B.G. PLAYS FOR, THEY TREAT THEM LIKE SUPERSTARS. >> AS BRITTNEY EVER EXPRESSED ANYTHING TO YOU ABOUT THAT, ABOUT THE PAY INEQUITY WITH THE WNBA, HAVING TO GO PLAY OVERSEAS? >> ABSOLUTELY. B.G. WOULD WHOLEHEARTEDLY LOVE TO NOT GO OVERSEAS. SHE HAS ONLY HAD ONE THANKSGIVING IN THE STATES IN NINE YEARS SINCE SHE'S BEEN PRO. SHE MISSES ALL THAT STUFF. JUST BECAUSE SHE CAN'T MAKE ENOUGH MONEY IN THE WNBA TO SUSTAIN HER LIFE. >> HAS IT BEEN COMFORTING TO SEE ALL THE WNBA COURTS WITH "BG42"? >> YES. BUT I THINK MORE SPECIFICALLY, IT COMFORTS B.G. IT LETS HER KNOW SHE'S NOT FORGOTTEN -- OBVIOUSLY, YOU KNOW. YOU'RE SITTING OVER THERE, THEY HAVEN'T COME TO YOUR RESCUE YET -- I KNOW IT MAKES HER FEEL GOOD BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE FORGOTTEN. >> Reporter: THE IMPRISONED GRINER SENDING A BOUQUET OF ROSES BEFORE OUR INTERVIEW. >> SHE HAD HER ATTORNEYS CALS C LINDSAY, HER AGENT, AND BRING ME ROSES TODAY. >> Reporter: THROUGH HEARTFELT LETTERS, HER PRESENCE HAS BEEN FELT AMIDST THE PAIN. HOW ARE YOU HOLDING UP DURING THIS TIME? >> I'M OKAY, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO BE, TECHNICALLY. SHE WROTE ME ONE LETTER, BABE, I KNOW YOU WANT TO GO DOWN, DON'T YET. BECAUSE EVERY DAY YOU WAKE UP AND THE FACT THAT YOU'RE STILL IN THAT REALITY, IT IS A REASON FOR YOU TO LOSE FAITH AND TO NOT HAVE HOPE AND ALL OF@BOFF. IT GIVES YOU SO MUCH REASON TO GO DOWN. I WON'T GO DOWN UNTIL SHE'S JUS. I CAN'T. I CAN'T. EVERYE HERE WHEN SHE

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