Brittney Griner jersey retired at Baylor

Feb 18, 2024; Waco, Texas, USA;  The Baylor Lady Bears retire jersey #42 Brittney Griner during a ceremony before a game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Former Baylor star Brittney Griner had her No. 42 jersey retired prior to a Bears women’s basketball game against Texas Tech Sunday in Waco, Texas.

At the recently opened Foster Pavilion, the school raised her jersey to the rafters as part of a pregame ceremony which Griner attended. Per the Associated Press, it was her first Bears home game attended since she last played 11 years ago.

Griner didn’t address the crowd, but she was visibly affected, clasping her hands together against her chest, and she spoke later about the honor in an interview with ESPN.

“Just full of emotion,” Griner said. “As soon as (the jersey) started to go up, that’s when I started to break.”

Griner, who starred on the Baylor team that went a perfect 40-0 in 2011-12 and won the national title, did not play for head coach Nicki Collen, who took the reins of the program in 2021, but Collen has publicly pushed for the move, saying last summer, “There’s no doubt that I want to see her jersey in the rafters.”

Kim Mulkey, now at LSU, coached Griner during her four years at Baylor (2009-13), but Mulkey had insisted that players must have graduated from the university to be eligible for a number retirement.

Griner went on to finish her degree in education in 2019, and Mulkey commented Saturday that she thought the retirement was “awesome.”

“I have been saying this since I arrived at Baylor that she deserves to have her jersey retired and I wanted to make sure that happened when the timing was right,” Collen said in a statement. “With the opening of Foster Pavilion, and the WNBA offseason fitting into our season, this seemed like the right time to honor Brittney and welcome her back home.”

A two-time winner of the AP Player of the Year, the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award during her decorated Bears tenure, Griner has gone on to a productive WNBA career and helped the Phoenix Mercury win a championship in 2014.

Griner was imprisoned in Russia in February 2022 and held till December of that year on a drug charge. The U.S. State Department held that she was “wrongfully” detained.

–Field Level Media

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