Texas-born basketball star Brittney Griner freed in high-stakes U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange – CultureMap Fort Worth

Brittney Griner news
Griner was freed on December 8.
Texas-born basketball star Brittney Griner is coming home.
The center of a global geopolitical maelstrom, 32-year-old Griner was released from a Russian prison on Thursday, December 8 in a dramatic, high-stakes prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russian governments. She was serving a more than nine-year prison sentence in Russia for unlawful possession of cannabis.
President Joe Biden announced the exchange in a Thursday morning press conference from the Oval Office. "She's safe, she's on a plane, she's on her way home," Biden said from the White House, accompanied by Griner's wife, Cherelle, and administration officials.

Cherelle Griner beamed a smile and declared, "family is whole."
In exchange for Griner, the U.S. agreed to release convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, arguably the world's best-known illegal arms trafficker who is known as "The Merchant of Death," who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence. Bout was notorious for using Soviet aircraft to deliver arms all over the world.
According to the Associated Press, The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the swap, saying in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the exchange took place in Abu-Dhabi and that both parties are headed to their respective homes.
Notably, detained American Paul Whelan, also requested by the U.S. in the deal, was not part of the deal.
Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was found guilty of drug possession in a Russian court on August 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport in February.

The basketball star tearfully begged a judge for leniency on August 4 in Khimki, Russia. The court, however, believed that Griner deliberately brought cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia, which is illegal there.
October 25, a Russian court rejected the American basketball star's appeal to bring her imprisonment for drug possession to a close.
Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner was returning to Russia, where she played during the U.S. league's offseason.
The Biden administration then offered to send Bout in exchange for Griner and Whelan. That deal was also nixed by Russia at the time.
Born in Houston, the six-foot-nine Griner was the top-ranked female basketball player in the nation and chose to stay in state and play for the Baylor Lady Bears, where she became one of college basketball’s biggest stars. Famed for her unstoppable post presence, defensive skills, shot blocking, and offensive dominance, she was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury professional franchise. She later led Team USA to Olympic gold medals in the Rio and Tokyo games.

Griner is one of only 11 women to win an NCAA championship, WNBA championship, Olympic gold medal, and an FIBA World Cup gold medal.
Her arrest and conviction was marked with political, ethnic, and sexual identity overtones and brought to light human rights issues and the plight of U.S. prisoners detained in Russia. The Russian invasion of Ukraine forced a delay in negotiations and offered little optimism for months.

But now, after 10 months of ordeal, Griner is free.
Holiday feasting
Leave the Christmas feast to someone else this year.
Christmas is really a two-day dining extravaganza, with celebratory meals served from Christmas Eve through Christmas night. This list compiles restaurants serving Christmas Eve and Christmas Day brunches and dinners along with some to-go options for at-home celebrations. Keep checking back as the list will quickly grow. (Looking for restaurants to take out-of-town guests throughout the holiday season? Find some great options here.)
97 West Kitchen & Bar
The Hotel Drover restaurant will serve a four-course, prix-fixe dinner both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with choice of appetizer, soup or salad, main course, and dessert. Menu highlights include chicken fried Texas oysters, caramelized onion cream soup, venison Wellington, and wood-grilled filet mignon with buttered lobster tail. Dinner is $99 and will run 4-9 pm. Or visit for brunch on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The $49 menu will be served 8 am-2 pm and includes choice of sharable starter like cast iron cinnamon rolls, and a main course like lobster omelet or steak and eggs.
B&B Butchers & Restaurant
While the restaurant will be closed Christmas Day, B&B will serve its normal Saturday brunch menu on Christmas Eve and will feature Christmas carolers during dinner service from 6:30-7:30 pm. Also don’t miss the restaurant’s “Reinsteer” available for photos outside. B&B to-go options include holiday menus to feed a crowd. Whole roasted prime rib ($650) comes with whipped potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. There’s also ready-to-roast file mignon whole tenderloin ($350), pork crown roast ($85), and ready-to-eat whole Berkshire smoked ham ($115). Sides and hors d’oeuvres are available a la carte, and orders require 48 hours' notice.

Bacchus Kitchen + Bar
The Grapevine restaurant inside Hotel Vin will serve Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner with a five-course menu featuring pumpkin bisque, charcuterie, salad, rib roast, and chocolate mousse layered with raspberry ganache. Dinner is $90 and will be served from 5-9 pm both evenings.
Blue Mesa Southwest Grill
The Fort Worth location will serve its famous all-you-can-eat brunch on Christmas Eve, 9 am-4 pm ($30 for adults, $10 for kids 6-11, and free for kids under 6; reservations recommended). A new to-go option is a Holiday Fajita Party Pack, which includes grilled chicken and steak fajitas, chicken taquitos, queso, guacamole, adobo pie, smoky black beans, coconut lime rice, toppings, or tortillas. Desserts and magaritas can be added. Serves 8; $195 and can be picked up, or delivered within a 5-mile radius.
Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine
The chefs at Bonnell’s are prepping elegant Christmas dinners to-go. All meal packages are cold-packed and come with reheating instructions. Options range from a whole beef tenderloin dinner with sides for eight ($450) to a whole prime rib dinner with sides for 16 ($600). Don’t forget bourbon-buttermilk pie for dessert. All options are also available a la carte. Order by December 16 for pick-up on December 23.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
The downtown steakhouse will be open 3-8 pm both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, serving its normal menu along with a prix-fixe three-course menu ($87) featuring 20-ounce prime rib served with horseradish cream, red wine au jus, and château mashed potatoes.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Heat-and-serve and ready-to-eat takeaway options include The Complete Feast (serving 10-12) featuring cornbread dressing, gravy, baked potato casserole, green beans with bacon, a dozen buttery rolls, and a choice of spiral-cut ham, smoked turkey, or prime rib. A modified Dinner Feast serves 8-10. Order online or via the Dickey’s App.
Omni Fort Worth Hotel
The downtown hotel will present its annual Christmas brunch buffet on the second level ballroom floor. The smorgasbord goes on and on with cheese and charcuteries, breads and rolls, salads, fruits and berries, chilled seafood display, breakfast dishes and sides, eggs made to order, clam chowder, carved meats to order, kids buffet, dessert display, warm churros, and Christmas bread pudding. The brunch is $76 for adults and $44 for children 6-12. Seating times are available every half-hour, 11 am-3 pm.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
The fine dining steakhouse will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, serving menu classics and a three-course prix-fixe meal. For at-home celebrations, they're offering a holiday feast ($195, serves four) featuring roasted beef tenderloin with horseradish cream, choice of salad, garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, and personal cheesecakes. Holiday sides to-go start at $28 and can be picked up between 4-6 pm through December 23; 48 hours' notice required.
Toro Toro
The Pan-Latin steakhouse inside the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel will serve dinner both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day along with a special Christmas Day brunch. The restaurant’s regular dinner menu will be served along with a chef special of roasted prime rib with jerk spiced marinade, mashed potatoes, asparagus, chipotle hollandaise, and ancho demi glaze. A buffet-style Christmas Day brunch with food stations will feature whole prime rib, chilled seafood, Belgian waffles, charcuterie, egg dishes, fresh fruit, and more. Brunch is $75 and will be served 10 am-2 pm. Dinner will be served 5-10 pm both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Wicked Butcher
The snazzy underground steakhouse at downtown’s Sinclair Hotel will serve an a la carte menu of seasonal dishes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Highlights range from East Coast oysters with yuzu-cucumber broth and gold flakes to duck breast, lobster mac and cheese, rack of lamb, and slow roasted prime rib. Don’t miss the Scotch in the City cocktail make with house-made cinnamon syrup. Wicked Butcher will be open 5-11 pm on Christmas Eve and 11 am-9 pm on Christmas Day.


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