Brittney Griner, a native of Houston who plays professional basketball under the WNBA franchise, was handed down a nine-year prison sentence at her trial in a Russian courtroom earlier this week.
The decision came just a few months after she was arrested for cannabis possession (vape pens) upon arrival at a Moscow airport ahead of the start of the international basketball season, in which players from around the world, notably the United States play on various European teams in an effort to supplement their salaries and gain exposure.
Following several court appearances, Griner plead guilty to possession of illegal cannabis after admitting that she was forced to sign documents that she didn't fully comprehend during her initial detainment earlier this year.
Since then, her lawyers have produced evidence showing that the basketball player had an authorized prescription for the cannabis-filled vape cartridges, however, that did not dissuade the judge from ultimately convicting her.
Griner is expected to possibly serve out her sentence in a Stalinesque gulag known as Correctional Colony 1, built on the grounds of a converted orphanage in a village outside of Moscow. The complex is known for having prisoners produce and manufacture goods that are then sold around the country.
Recently, the Biden administration slammed the decision as efforts are being made in order to secure the player's release in a potential prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. However, those efforts have fallen on deaf ears as negotiations have failed to produce any results.
Meanwhile, as pressure has reached a fevered pitch among calls from humanitarian lawyers, family members, and other athletes, Griners' fate hangs in the balance.