Last Friday, the agent for American professional basketball player Brittney Griner wrote a surprising op-ed in “TIME” outlining the reasons why Griner will now stand for the national anthem before her games this year. 

Griner spent nearly 10 months in 2022 detained in a Russian prison for the illegal possession of cannabis oil. She spent most of that time allegedly in a “cage” too small for her to even stand. In December, her release was negotiated in exchange for a Russian arms dealer. 

Before her foreign imprisonment, Griner had joined other members of the WNBA in activist protest against what they believed to be systemic racism, sexism, and homophobia in America. In 2020, she announced that she wouldn’t even show her face on the court until after the national anthem was over and done, joining others in expressing disrespect and dissatisfaction with their nation and its history. Griner went so far as to say the national anthem should not even be played before WNBA games. 

You can see why it would be surprising to some that Griner has had such a change of heart. Surely America’s history has not changed. Nothing has changed for its citizens of color or women or members of the LGBTQ community. No new laws have been changed that would warrant the end of this leftist activist protest. No, nothing like that changed at all. 

So what did change? Brittney Griner got a 10-month taste test of just how good she has it. 

She was reminded of just how great America is for all people. She saw firsthand why those in other countries risk all to live in our land. She experienced justice abroad, and she chose what she previously considered to be “injustices” in America instead. She was sorely reminded of her freedom in a Russian prison cell, and Griner is now, perhaps for the first time, thankful and proud to be an American. 

As her agent writes in the “TIME” article: 

Having been put in a literal cage, too small for her frame, stripped of her essential American freedoms, and deprived of even her most basic rights during a sham trial and unjust sentencing, Brittney, supported by many other players, will make a statement this WNBA season by standing tall for those uniquely American freedoms—the most important of which being the absolute and inviolable and constitutionally protected freedom to stand, sit, kneel, praise, protest, and otherwise make your voice heard.

At the first game of the season, Griner remained standing at attention for the national anthem for the first time in years. She explained her change of heart in her own words after the game, “Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand. Now everybody that will not stand or not come out, I totally support them 100 percent. That's our right, as an American in this great country.” 

She went on to say, “I appreciate everything a little bit more, all of the small moments, like, ‘Oh, I’m so tired I don’t want to go to practice today,’ that has changed, honestly. Tomorrow is not guaranteed; you don’t know what it’s going to look like. I feel a lot older somehow, too.” 

Agree with her politics or not, these statements are quite incredible to hear coming from someone who not too long ago relished the idea of doing away with the national anthem altogether. Perhaps “feeling older” means she is growing up to recognize that while our nation is far from perfect, it is still the best place on earth to live, and the lies she had been sold by the left were nothing more than seeds of hatred sown by slander meant to divide and give power to people who hate all that America represents. 

I hope and pray her words and actions pierce the hearts of her teammates and fans and are a stunning reminder of the immense respect and gratitude owed to our nation and the freedom our forefathers fought for that every one of us enjoys every day.

Lauren is a wife, mother, and writer with a passion for boldly speaking truth. Writing and speaking for over a decade, Lauren has reached millions worldwide. She is known for her Biblical approach to controversial topics and humorous approach to counteracting the lies of the world. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @laurendemoss.

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