Brittney Griner’s number will finally hang in the rafters at Baylor University, with the school announcing Monday that they will retire her No. 42 on Feb. 18.
The Phoenix Mercury star, who was also the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, twice led Baylor to the Final Four during her college career. She helped lead the team to a perfect 40-0 national championship season during her junior year and left as one of the most decorated athletes in school history.
Professionally, Griner is a 10-year WNBA veteran with the Mercury, where she won the 2014 WNBA title. She’s also won two Olympic gold medals.
A Houston native, she played at Baylor from 2009 to 2013. She still holds the NCAA record for blocked shots (748). She also sat at No. 4 on the career scoring list with 3,283 points up until recently, when she was surpassed by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.
“I’m honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started,” Griner said Monday in a statement. “I’m grateful to Coach Nicki [Collen] and the entire Baylor community and am 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.”
A reportedly strained relationship with former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey had previously hung over the question as to why Griner’s jersey had yet to be retired. In the time since she played at Baylor, the numbers of Odyssey Sims, Melissa Jones and Nina Davis have all been retired.
Mulkey, during her time at Baylor, said that it was a requirement for a player to have graduated in order for their jersey to be retired. Griner finished her degree at Baylor in 2019.
Mulkey left the Bears in 2021 to take over at LSU. Nicki Collen, who took over, said that it was one of her goals to get Griner’s number retired. Hopes that it would happen during the 2021-22 season were overshadowed by Griner’s imprisonment in Russia.
Griner was released in December 2022, and returned to the WNBA in 2023. When Griner and Phoenix played at Dallas last June, Collen and the entire Baylor women’s program attended the game.
At the time, Collen reiterated her and the program’s commitment to honoring Griner.
“I have been saying this since I arrived at Baylor that she deserves to have her jersey retired and I wanted to make sure that happened when the timing was right,” Collen said in a statement. “With the opening of Foster Pavilion, and the WNBA offseason fitting into our season, this seemed like the right time to honor Brittney and welcome her back home.
“She is one of the best basketball players in Baylor’s history, and we’re thrilled that the time has come to celebrate Brittney and all of her accomplishments.”