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WNBA star Griner expected to arrive in San Antonio on Thursday night following Russian detention

Griner is likely to undergo an extensive health evaluation at Brooke Army Medical Center.

SAN ANTONIO — WNBA star Brittney Griner is free after spending nine months in Russian detention on drug charges.

The Biden administration announced Thursday morning that Griner was released in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. KENS 5 has learned Griner was on her way to San Antonio on Thursday evening.

Government sources say it’s possible she will arrive at Kelly Field after 11 p.m. Thursday. 

From there, she would be expected to be taken to Brooke Army Medical Center, where she’ll undergo an extensive health evaluation.

For someone who’s returned from overseas imprisonment, military hospitals like Brooke Army Medical Center are a place to focus on physical and mental health, according to Dr. Ralph Riviello, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UT Health San Antonio and head of the University Health Emergency Dept. 

The immediate checks involve doctors checking for issues like anemia, electrolyte imbalances and infections, Riviello said. Physicians also will identify any injuries that may have been sustained before or during incarceration that were undertreated.

Then, within a couple days, Riviello said a more in-depth assessment would most likely take place.  

"(They would seek) more details about what happened to them during their incarceration and what they may have endured. Was there any physical violence? Was there any torture? Was there psychological torture or manipulation? Probably this would be a multi-disciplinary team," he said.

In April, former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed received medical treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center. The Biden administration exchanged a convicted drug smuggler for Reed, who had been in Russian detention for nearly three years.  

Debbie Jackson is among those excited and grateful for Griner's return. She watched Griner grow as a person and athlete while coaching basketball at Nimitz High School for four years. 

Jackson learned about Griner's release when a reporter called her at 7 a.m.

She said she can't imagine the mental trauma Griner may have endured while in Russian captivity. 

“I would give her the biggest bear hug I could and tell her how much I lover her, how happy we are she’s back. I’m so thankful she’s home for Christmas," Jackson said.  

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