Brittney Griner's Legal Team Reveals What Led to Guilty Plea: 'An Example of Being Brave'

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner

Christian Petersen/Getty Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner's lawyers are revealing what was the motivation behind the sports star's decision to plead guilty to drug charges in Russia.

On Thursday, the 31-year-old WNBA star entered a guilty plea and said that she did bring cannabis products into the country — where it is considered illegal — but that she was packing quickly and did not mean to break the law, saying she did so "inadvertently."

A statement from Brittney's legal team, Maria Blagovolina from Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Alexander Boykov from Moscow Legal Center, shared with PEOPLE on Thursday says her plea "was her decision informed by discussion with her legal defense team in Russia."

"Brittney sets an example of being brave. She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people," the statement continues.

Her lawyers say that because of "the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG's personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport," they are hopeful that her plea will help the athlete avoid a "severe sentence."

Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States during team warm up before the France V USA Preliminary Round Group B Basketball Women match at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States during team warm up before the France V USA Preliminary Round Group B Basketball Women match at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

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Brittney's trial, which began on July 1, is expected to end with sentencing at the beginning of next month, her legal team adds.

She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Brittney has been detained since her arrest in February. Back then, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was taken into custody at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after officials found vape cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in Russia, in her luggage.

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The U.S. State Department later officially classified Brittney as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation. "Our position for some time on this has been very clear. Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer," Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, said in a June 14 press briefing.

Her wife Cherelle Griner recently opened up about how Brittney is coping behind bars, telling Rev. Al Sharpton that the two-time Olympic gold medalist is "struggling."

RELATED VIDEO: Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Russian Drug Charges: 'I Did Not Want to Break the Law'

"She's there terrified, she's there alone," she added on Sharpton's SiriusXM show Keepin' It Real.

Cherelle said that she knows Brittney isn't fully expressing her worries to protect Cherelle from the truth.

"Because I'm her person she will always try and write persuasively to make sure I don't break because she knows I'm studying for my bar and she knows I have all these things going on and she's trying to always be my strong person."

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Cherelle said Brittney has told her she's "hardened" and is not "on her knee right now" and will need time after she gets home to get back to herself. "But I'm holding on and I won't break until I come home," Brittney wrote in a letter to Cherelle, their only form of communication.

As for how Cherelle is doing, she told Sharpton, "I'm doing okay, I wish I could say I was better, but until my wife is home there is a huge piece of me that is missing."