After spending nearly ten months isolated from with outside world, WNBA star Brittney Griner reportedly opened.up in heartfelt kinship toward the U.S. flight crew taking her home after her release from a Russian penal colony.

“When she finally got on to the U.S .plane, I said, ‘Brittney, you must have been through a lot over the last 10 months. Here’s your seat. Please feel free to decompress. We’ll give you your space,’” Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

“And she said, ‘Oh no. I’ve been in prison for 10 months now listening to Russian, I want to talk. But first of all, who are these guys?’ And she moved right past me and went to every member on that crew, looked them in the eyes, shook their hands and asked about them and got their names, making a personal connection with them. It was really amazing,” Carstens told “State of the Union. “And then later on, on an 18 hour flight, she probably spent 12 hours just talking and we talked about everything under the sun.”

dCarsten oversaw Griner’s release from the Russian prison as Washington’s top hostage affairs official. Her release was finally secured in a prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms trafficker, Viktor Bout. Griner was arrested for possession of illegal hash oil vape cartridges in Moscow more than nine months ago. She was tried and convicted in August after pleading guilty and sentenced to nine years imprisonment.




Carsten went on to described Griner as “an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person, but above all, authentic.”

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, “was in the Oval Office with Biden on Thursday morning and the two were able to speak with her by phone,” NBC News reported.