Brittney Griner’s Book: Hoops, Hardship and Hope
NEW YORK -- Brittney Griner had a busy WNBA offseason. She played in China, vacationed in Miami and watched from courtside while favorite player LeBron James beat her hometown Houston Rockets.
Now the slam-dunking Griner is signing copies of her book at the Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn. "In My Skin," released Tuesday by HarperCollins, chronicles her struggles with bullying, sexuality and family acceptance.
Her motivation was to "help other people in need, especially youth, who didn’t have anybody to look up to," she recently told The Associated Press by phone. "I get a lot of kids writing to me - some adults, too - telling me what they’re going through, asking me for advice."
Griner, who led Baylor to a 40-0 season and the 2012 NCAA title, came out last April after her final season at the Baptist school that prohibits premarital sex and homosexuality. She writes that she had a positive relationship with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, but it became strained during her senior season.
Turning pro as the No. 1 pick by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA draft allowed the 6-foot-8, bow-tie wearing Griner more freedom of expression. That includes showing off the cascading floral tattoos on her shoulder and working on anti-bullying campaigns.
The 23-year-old Griner has evolved from the middle school girl taunted for her size and androgynous look. She would write about her feelings and dark thoughts, then toss or hide the notes. This week, she’ll be talking about her life at bookstores in Phoenix and Houston.
Five things to know about Griner, who says her next goal is earning a spot on the U.S. team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
CHINA SYNDROME: Griner experienced "culture shock" moving from Waco, Texas, to play in the China Women’s League from November through February. She competed overseas against WNBA stars, including Maya Moore and Nneka Ogwumike.
"She’s a player who makes you better," said Ogwumike, a Los Angeles Sparks forward. "She helps you be a little more creative."
ABUSE: The bullying started in sixth grade - name-calling, mocking, fights. A "nervous and scared" Griner began writing as a way to cope.
She writes of her father, who works in law enforcement. When he found out she was a lesbian during her senior year in high school, Griner moved out because of the verbal hostility. She lived with an assistant basketball coach until her father agreed to try to accept her sexuality.