Brittney Griner Tears Up Remembering Her Suicidal Thoughts in Prison in Clip from First Interview (Exclusive)

Brittney Griner will open up in detail about her Russian detainment for the first time in a new interview airing during a special edition of 20/20 on May 1.

The WNBA star, 33, has answered questions about her detainment before, but she has yet to agree to a sit-down interview about the 10-month ordeal, which began when she was arrested for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport in February 2022, until now.

In a new trailer shared exclusively with PEOPLE on Tuesday, Griner tearfully walks Good Morning America host Robin Roberts through her experience in the Russian prison and describes what her life was like behind bars during the primetime special, from 20/20 and ABC News Studios.

The interview will take viewers through the entirety of Griner’s experience: from her February 2022 arrest, to her nine-year prison sentencing, all the way through her time in prison and her release on December 8, 2022. 

Griner also provides emotional insight into the conditions she faced while inside Russia’s infamous penal colony, conditions she describes as making her feel “less than a human.”

The former WNBA Champion and nine-time All Star tells Roberts she dealt with suicidal thoughts, describing one harrowing moment where a knife was readily available to her. Griner tells Roberts her mattress in prison “had a huge blood stain on it” and that “I had no soap, no toilet paper.”

(L-R) Robin Roberts and Brittney Griner.


“That was the moment where I just felt less than a human,” she says.

“I was just so scared for everything,” Griner tells Roberts at another point while discussing her nine-year prison sentence, wiping away tears as she recalls what she felt like when the sentence was handed down.

Brittney Griner in Russian custody on Aug. 4, 2022.
Mikhail Voskresensky/TASS via ZUMA Press

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA, was ultimately freed in a December 2022 prisoner swap that saw the United States release Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. She then returned to basketball in May 2023 to continue her WNBA career with the Phoenix Mercury, going on to make her ninth WNBA All-Star appearance later that season.

Griner is also gearing up for the release of her memoir about her Russian detainment, Coming Home, which is due out May 7.

Brittney Griner.

ABC News

ABC News tells PEOPLE the one-hour 20/20 special, titled “Prisoner in Russia: The Brittney Griner Interview,” will also feature interviews with Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner, her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas and Special Presidential Envoy of Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens.

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The special will air May 1 at 10 p.m. ET and will be available to stream the next day on Hulu. A first look at Griner’s interview will air this Wednesday morning on Good Morning America.

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