Brittney Griner made a surprise appearance at an MLK Day march in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday, just weeks after her release from a Russian penal colony.
The WNBA star surprised a group who had gathered for the march on what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 94th birthday, attending the event with her wife, Cherelle Griner.
Griner, 32, posed for photos with fans and was pictured riding on the back of a golf cart at the event.
The Phoenix Mercury star said she was happy to be home after being detained in Russia for nearly a year, NBC affiliate KPNX, which is based in Phoenix, reported.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, arrived safely back in the United States in December after being freed in a prisoner swap between Washington and Moscow.
In exchange for her release, the U.S. freed Viktor Bout, an arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” who had been serving a 25-year prison sentence handed down by a judge in 2012.
Griner’s return came nearly 10 months after she was first detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after Russian authorities said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. The athlete was later jailed on drug charges.
The WNBA star was sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly possessing the vape cartridges, which she said had been unintentional. She was being held at a penal colony before her release.
“It feels so good to be home!” Griner said in an Instagram post on Dec. 16 days after her return to the U.S.
“The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn,” she wrote. “I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”