Queer basketball player Brittney Griner honoured by Baylor University

Queer basketball player Brittney Griner has been honoured by Baylor University, Texas, where she graduated in 2013. 

The faculty retired her No. 42 jersey on 18 February at a pregame ceremony on campus to honour her sporting legacy one of the highest honours for an athlete, usually reserved after a player has left the team, retires from the sport, or dies. Griner marks the seventh Baylor women’s basketball player to have their jersey retired. 

The jersey was raised in the new Foster Pavilion, where Baylor started playing last month. The ceremony before the game against Texas Tech saw video highlights from one of the TIME 100 influential people’s career, with the basketball star appearing emotional and putting her hand to her heart after the Baylor fan reaction. 

“Just full of emotion,” Griner said via an in-game interview on ESPN. “As soon as [the jersey] started to go up, that’s when I started to break.”

The basketball player was visibly emotional after her jersey was retired. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and six-time WNBA All-Star had her homecoming after attending a Baylor Bears game on campus for the first time since her graduation 11 years ago. 

“I’m honoured to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started,” the athlete said via a statement. “I’m grateful to Coach Nicki [Collen] and the entire Baylor community and looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment. Sic ‘Em Bears.”

Griner was part of Baylor’s 40-0 national championship team during the 2011-12 season. Her final home games saw the Bears winning the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Ferrell Center on campus in March 2013, with Griner scoring three dunks in her final game. The following weekend, however, the team lost to Louisville in the Sweet 16. 

Griner has always been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and previously vowed to stand up for trans athletes. The basketball player gave her first news conference in May 2023 after being freed from Russian detention in April of that year, and spoke out against anti-trans laws in sport

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