Basketball-Griner saw world crumbling in Russia arrest

FILE PHOTO: Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who was detained in Russia, looks at a mural, painted by Antoinette Cauley, that depicts the faces of Griner and individuals who are detained oversees, ahead of her return to court with Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., April 27, 2023. REUTERS/Caitlin O'Hara/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brittney Griner saw her world crumbling around her when she was detained at a Moscow airport two years ago after she was caught carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, saying a "mental lapse" led to nearly 10 months behind bars in Russia.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested in February 2022 for carrying the cartridges in her luggage. She returned home in a prisoner exchange in December of that year.

"I could just visualize everything I worked so hard for just crumbling and going away," the WNBA All-Star told ABC's 20/20 program, recalling the moment the cartridges were uncovered.

Griner is releasing a book on the ordeal later this month and reiterated that she did not intend to pack the cartridges, which were legal in Arizona, where she plays for the Phoenix Mercury.

"It's just so easy to have a mental lapse," said Griner. "Granted my mental lapse was on a more grand scale but it doesn't take away from how that can happen."

The twice Women's National Basketball Association scoring champion became emotional when discussing the guilt she felt for letting down her family and her team.

"I don't think I've really gotten through (it) all the way," she said. "It's my fault and I let everybody down."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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