Knopf to publish memoir by US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Moscow in February 2022, and sentenced to nine years in prison for illegal drug possession

Sample article from our Government & Public Policy

April 20, 2023 (press release) –

When U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner was arrested at Moscow airport on February 17, 2022, then sentenced to nine years in prison for illegal drug possession and smuggling in a sensational trial, images of the incident went around the world. The U.S. government and much of the public saw the conviction as politically motivated and lobbied hard for the athlete’s release, which was eventually achieved via a prisoner swap in December 2022. Now Knopf, a Penguin Random House U.S. publisher, has announced the upcoming publication of Griner’s memoir, in which she will recount the events herself for the first time, in the spring of 2024.

Jordan Pavlin, Knopf SVP & Editor-in-Chief, will edit the as-yet untitled memoir, and the book will have a co-writer. The memoir will be published by Knopf in the U.S. in hardcover, as an ebook, and in audio by Penguin Random House; Vintage will publish the trade paperback edition a year later. Random House Children’s Books will publish a Young Adult edition at a later date. Griner’s first book, “In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court,” was published in 2015.

In her memoir, Griner shares her journey from 2016 and 2020 Olympic champion to the events in Russia to her life today. Griner discloses her harrowing experience of her detainment and the difficulty of navigating the byzantine Russian legal system in a language she did not speak. Griner also describes her stark and surreal time living in a foreign prison and the terrifying aspects of day-to-day life in a women’s penal colony. At the heart of the book, Griner highlights the personal turmoil she experienced during the near ten-month ordeal in Russia. However, the memoir also documents how the global #WeAreBG movement began, as well as the issue of pay equity for women athletes in the United States – the very inequity that led Griner to play basketball in Russia for seven previous seasons and to return for an eighth on that fateful February day. 

“I arrived in Moscow to rejoin the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team and was immediately detained at the airport,” says Griner. “That day was the beginning of an unfathomable period in my life which only now am I ready to share. The primary reason I traveled back to Russia for work that day was because I wanted to make my wife, family, and teammates proud.  After an incredibly challenging 10 months in detainment, I am grateful to have been rescued and to be home. Readers will hear my story and understand why I’m so thankful for the outpouring of support from people across the world.” She expresses her hope that writing this book will raise awareness surrounding other Americans wrongfully detained abroad.

Knopf editor Reagan Arthur says, “Brittney Griner has been a trailblazing pioneer in the world of sports for over a decade. Her memoir recounts not only one of the biggest news stories of 2022 but also centers on a personal story of survival and hope. Knopf has published the works of sports heroes such as Andre Agassi, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, and Diana Nyad, and now Brittney’s book will proudly stand alongside this legendary list.”

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Chelsey Quick
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