Brittney Griner, WNBA’s overall draft pick: ‘Be who you are’

HOUSTON — Standing 6′ 8″ tall, with an arm span of 86″ and wearing a men’s size 18 shoe, Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury’s 2013 WNBA number one Draft Pick, is an impressive figure both on and off the court.

But Griner likes to remind all the girls and young women who idolize her to just be themselves and not worry what others think.

Brittney Griner is the No. 1 overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury in Monday’s WNBA draft.
Photo: Jessica Hill, AP

She should know, as she never makes a big deal out of the fact that she is lesbian, making no big coming out announcement as she was selected by the Mercury. But as numerous sportswriters noted, Griner does not hide from the topic either when it was pertinent to the issues being discussed.

In an interview with Associated Press on Wednesday, Griner said standing out in a crowd wasn’t always easy.

“It was hard. Just being picked on for being different. Just being bigger, my sexuality, everything,” she said, acknowledging she is gay. “I overcame it and got over it. Definitely something that I am very passionate about. I want to work with kids and bring recognition to the problem, especially with the LGBT community.”

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Griner, who was a rising star at Baylor University, is the first NCAA basketball player ever to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. Last year, the three-time All-American was named the Associated Press Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

In a pre-draft interview with USA Today on Monday, Griner brought it up herself while crediting her parents for always encouraging her to be herself no matter what cruel things people were saying about her.

“My dad and my mom have always told me, ‘Be who you are.’ At the time, they probably weren’t sure what I was interpreting that as,” she said.

“I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality,” Griner later told Sports Illustrated. “If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

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