Getty Images

Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner has earned the WNBA's season-long Community Assist Award, the league announced on Friday. Griner was recognized for her work with wrongful detainees overseas and the homeless population in Phoenix. She is the second consecutive Mercury player to receive the award, joining teammate Brianna Turner, who was honored last season. 

"I'm grateful to receive this recognition from the WNBA but even more grateful to the X-Factor fans, fans all around the league, and our Phoenix Mercury organization for working together this year to make a difference through my Heart and Sole Shoe Drive and Bring Our Families Home," Griner stated in a press release. "I know the opportunity, privilege and responsibility I have to make a difference in the lives of others, and I'll always remain committed to that."

After spending 294 days detained in Russia on drug charges, Griner returned to the United States in December of 2022. Despite the ordeal, Griner returned to play for the Mercury this season, averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 56.2% shooting. For her efforts, she was named an All-Star starter, and made her eighth appearance in the annual event. 

Along the way, Griner was working with multiple organizations to help those in need, both in America and overseas. 

One of them was Bring Our Families Home, a group that works to assist Americans who are wrongly detained overseas, just as she was last year. Griner and the Mercury hosted families of wrongful detainees at Mercury games throughout the season, both in Phoenix and on the road. They also set up a letter-writing campaign to urge elected officials to keep working to bring detainees home. 

Furthermore, Griner continued her work with her own organization, BG Heart & Sole Shoe Drive, which she founded in 2016. Together with the Phoenix Rescue Mission, Griner was able to collect over 3,000 pairs of shoes for homeless people in the Phoenix area, as well as shirts, backpacks, hats and sanitary items. 

In honor of Griner's work, the WNBA made a $20,000 donation that will be split between Bring Our Families Home and the Phoenix Rescue Mission.