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Brittney Griner's agent on what it took to get Griner back to the U.S.


Reportedly, Brittney Griner can still dunk a basketball. That's after 10 months of what the U.S. government describes as wrongful detainment in Russian prisons. She's now back in the United States. But we only know so much about what she experienced and her future in basketball.

So we've reached out to her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who saw Brittney Griner at a military base in Texas. Lindsay, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

LINDSAY KAGAWA COLAS: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

SUMMERS: So, Lindsay, what can you tell us about how Brittney Griner is doing now? You know, she's just been through so much since February when she was detained in Russia.

COLAS: You know, she is doing really, really well. She's so happy. She is so grateful. And she's really benefiting from all of the resources that the U.S. government provides to someone like her who has been through so much and is now into this next phase of reintegration. But I think the most important thing is that the things that she's doing now, it's all her choice. Everything is voluntary. As you heard, she did hit the basketball court, but she was also getting to do other things that were really important to her, like see her family and obviously spend time with her wife who fought so hard to get her home.

SUMMERS: You know, most of us, of course, never had the experience that she's had. But I'm curious, what does the day to day look like for her? Can you give us just a little peek into maybe some of those choices that she's making, some of those things she enjoys?

COLAS: The big thing for us is just being able to create a world for her where she's going to really get to do what she wants. And it really is a new world. And one of the first things that we talked about, and we've talked about it every day since, is her commitment to using her platform to get other wrongful detainees, people like Paul Whelan, home. She asks about him constantly. She's never once asked to be famous, or that's not her desire. That's not her goal. But here she is. And so now that she has this power, now that she has this visibility and this influence, she wants to use it to help people.

SUMMERS: I know that it's early still, but I'd like to ask you, have you had the opportunity to speak with Brittney about what the experience of the last nine, 10 months has been like for her, how she was treated in Russia and the prison system?

COLAS: We did. And we were very, very proactive. So our team of people in Russia were very, very personally committed to her health and wellness. And again, I'm going to leave it to Brittney to tell the stories, but she has a lot to say. She's got a lot of stories to tell. She's got a lot to share. But I know she's very, very grateful to the folks who looked after her there.

SUMMERS: As I'm sure you know, there are a lot of questions swirling about what Brittney Griner's future in her sport will be given the fact that she's a two-time Olympic gold medalist and an undisputed star of the league. And the new season's starting in May. Has she said whether she plans to play basketball again?

COLAS: No, you know, she hasn't. She hasn't made that specifically clear yet. That's not something that we've put any pressure on her on. So I'm going to leave that for her to share. Everything in the world has changed for her, but a lot has changed for the WNBA, too.

SUMMERS: You and other insiders have spoken out that WNBA athletes play in places like Russia and Turkey because they got paid significantly more there than in the U.S. So what needs to happen for salaries for WNBA players to rise to the point where more athletes can make a living, the living that they want to, here in the U.S.?

COLAS: It's investment. And when I say investment, I don't just mean give the players bigger salaries. This is an interconnected world, right? The economy in and around women's sports and the WNBA, it's all connected to choice and to priority. None of this stuff happens alone. It's all interconnected, and everybody can play a part in that. But it always comes down to choices, and choices reflect values. And I think those values are starting to shift. People are starting to understand the value of that investment.

SUMMERS: We've been speaking with sports agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas. Among her clients is Brittney Griner. Lindsay, thank you so much.

COLAS: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Seyma Bayram
Seyma Bayram is the 2022-2023 Reflect America Fellow at NPR.
Carol Klinger
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.