“I Felt Unsafe”: After Brittney Griner’s Russian Nightmare, Former Lakers Star Recalls His Horrifying Experiences

Playing sports in a foreign country can become a frightening ordeal, as WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has experienced. After the 33-year-old spent 10 months in a Russian prison in 2022, there has been a marked decline in players moving abroad. A former NBA star who had his own troubles during international basketball tours wasn’t surprised after hearing Griner’s story, though. Appearing on VLAD TV, Smush Parker said that something like this could happen at any point to any American athlete who is out there just by themselves.

“There were times when I felt unsafe,” said the former Los Angeles Lakers guard, adding that being in a country where the native tongue isn’t English and no one speaks it was not easy. However, the primary reason for Smush feeling unsafe was not the sense of secludedness but the horrific scenarios that he witnessed on his foreign basketball tours, including Greece, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Mongolia, and Lebanon.

“True story, Lebanon. I’m playing in a town where half the city is blown to pieces. My hotel room had bullet holes in the wall,” said Parker, adding that mostly the scenario was the same with countries that just got into war or never recovered from the war. Further in the podcast, Smush revealed that this was something he was witnessing regularly on these tours.


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“In Tunisia, we had a curfew because there was a war going on in a town right next to mine. We had an 8 O’clock curfew. There were bombs going off. So, I mean, there were times where I felt like, yeah, I might not make it home,” he said. After finishing with the NBA, Parker started playing in various parts of the world.

Parker signed for the Russian team, Spartak Saint Petersburg, in 2010 following his stop in China. This was followed by stints in Greece, Iran, Venezuela, and more. His experiences on these tours are a testament to his claim of not being surprised by Brittney Griner’s Russian ordeal.


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What happened with Brittney Griner in Russia?

BG was one of the many players who were involved in foreign basketball tours apart from their time in the WNBA. She, in fact, had earned quite a name for herself in the Russian basketball scenario. So much so that as per VLAD TV, she was considered the Michael Jordan of Russia at that time.

However, Griner’s fame and reputation were short-lived as authorities arrested her at a Moscow airport on drug-related charges. Griner was sentenced to a 9-year imprisonment. However, she was allowed to return to the US after the administration arranged a prisoner swap with a Russian arms dealer.


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“I Know What That Girl’s Family Has to Be Going Through Right Now. And I Feel
for Them”: Boxing Legend Roy Jones Jr. Was Deeply Saddened After Learning About
Brittney Griner’s Situation

While Parker was never arrested during his international tours, he felt it could happen to anyone at any time. And he wasn’t wrong.

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