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Baylor honors Brittney Griner with special addition to uniforms

Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

“She’s family.”

The Baylor women’s basketball team tweeted that simple statement Thursday, an echo of coach Nicki Collen’s message of support to former Bears star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.

“BG’s family. She’s Baylor family,” Collen said in September. “To me, anything we can do to help her and her family is important.”

The team will lend its support to Griner throughout this season by wearing jersey patches to honor her and draw attention to her plight. The 32-year-old WNBA player has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony for drug possession charges, but the U.S. government says she is being wrongfully detained.

Baylor posted a video showing Collen placing one of the patches on a Bears jersey. The patch features Griner’s initials, BG, and her jersey number 42, as well as a small heart.

The Bears played with the patches for the first time Thursday in an exhibition game against Southwest Baptist. Ranked No. 18 in the preseason AP poll, Baylor handled the Division II opponent easily in a 97-40 win.

Collen and the Bears program have been vocal in their support of Griner, even as former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has remained silent.

Mulkey coached Griner from 2009-13, and they won a national title together in 2012. She jumped to LSU in 2021, and Collen replaced her at Baylor.

Just Women’s Sports reached out to LSU after Griner’s conviction in August, but Mulkey and the athletic department declined to comment. An athletic department spokesperson said he would reach out if Mulkey decided to release a statement. She never did.

During the preseason, a reporter said to Mulkey he had yet to hear her say anything about Griner. “And you won’t,” the coach replied.

Collen has not spoken directly about Mulkey’s comments but has spoken at length about Griner, who she called “an unbelievable ambassador for the game of basketball.

“Those that have been around me know I get pretty emotional,” Collen said in September. “I think BG, first of all, is human first. I think this is a human rights issue.”