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Cheer on This Out Houstonian at the Tokyo Games

Team USA’s Brittney Griner vies to win another gold medal for women’s basketball.

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Brittney Griner (photo by Jessica Hill, AP)

The Olympic Women’s Basketball games are on, and one player to watch is Houston’s own Brittney Griner. 

Griner—who is one of 168 openly LGBTQ athletes competing in this summer’s Tokyo Games—is no stranger to the Olympics. She won her first gold medal for Team USA in Rio during the 2016 games. She was again selected to compete as part of Team USA, which is already projected to make it to the women’s basketball finals in 2021.

During Griner’s first game on July 27, she and Phoenix Mercury teammate Diana Taurasi (a five-time Olympian) led Team USA to an 81 to 72 win over Team Nigeria. Griner scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds. Griner plays again July 30 and August 2.

Standing at six-foot-nine, the 30-year-old B-ball queen is the tallest player in the WNBA. She started her career at Nimitz High School in Harris County, where she lettered in basketball. She was so impressive that then-Mayor Bill White declared May 7, 2009, as Brittney Griner Day. 

Her dunking skills earned her a spot on Baylor University’s Lady Bears basketball team, where she went on to garner several awards and firsts. She led the team to an undefeated season in 2012, and is the only NCAA basketball player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. One year later, the Phoenix Mercury selected Griner as their first-round draft pick, and she has played center for the team since then. 

Griner came out publicly as a lesbian in an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2013, saying that she was bullied as a child because of her height and sexuality. In 2014 she penned a memoir, In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court, in which she writes about bullying and self-acceptance. 

Brittney Griner (r) and her wife, Cherelle T. Griner (photo via Instagram).

In 2015, she married fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson, but after Griner pled guilty to disorderly conduct amid domestic-violence problems, the couple divorced. Griner remarried in 2018 to Cherelle Watson, whom she met during their days at Baylor.

Off the court, Griner loves to skateboard and plays and watches most all sports. She’s known for her arm tattoos, long braids, and love of menswear. Griner broke ground again when she became the first female model for Nike’s menswear, including their skateboard line. 

For information on streaming Team USA’s women’s basketball events on July 30 and August 2 games, go here.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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