Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. continues to remind the world that his cult classic single, “Yall Musta Forgot,” will forever be relevant. The recently inducted Hall of Famer is working on getting detained WNBA star Brittney Griner out of the Russian jail she is currently within.
Jones, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Russia, is set on utilizing his Russian citizenship powers to help Griner’s precarious predicament.
“Would I put my life on the line, take a chance to go to Russia to exchange prisoners? Yes, I would,” Jones said to TMZ Sports. “Why? Because if it was my daughter, I would want somebody to do the same thing for me.”
Roy To The Rescue
Jones said he had already talked to a friend close to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the potential for Griner’s release. Jones claims that Russia would be open to a possible prisoner exchange.
“My friend called and he called me back and he said, ‘Yes, they said they’d be willing to do a prisoner exchange,'” Jones continued. “I said, ‘Well, it’s probably rough because the prisoner exchange is probably a real prisoner.'”
“She’s not necessarily a person that’s a real prisoner, but I’m sure that maybe the U.S. will be understanding of this and get her back home because I’d be terrified if my kid was stuck in a foreign country in jail, you know?”
Griner, who has been jailed since February after authorities allegedly found hash oil in her luggage, is facing up to 10 years in prison. Griner returned to Russia during the WNBA offseason to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg. She has been playing for the team since 2014.
The U.S. government has now reclassified the WNBA player as “wrongfully detained.” This upgraded status indicates a shift from the lower profile that the league and the government hoped would help her release.
The official designation change signals the State Department’s shift in position from waiting for the Russian legal process to play out. The agency has been working to negotiate for her release, with the U.S. government issuing many statements.
“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release,” the State Department said last month.
The Griner Plea
Since the U.S. government’s reversal of a more subtle approach to not bring attention to the Phoenix Mercury center’s plight, the league added a floor decal, and more players are speaking out on her behalf.
Russian state news reported that Griner’s next hearing would be July 2. However, U.S. officials believe the legal proceedings to be a sham effort to spark a negotiation tactic. Many believe Russian courts will keep extending Griner’s detention until some semblance of a deal is reached.
“Hostage diplomacy cases rely on the pretense of law. The Russians won’t ever say ‘we’re holding Brittney Griner hostage,’ but by repeatedly postponing her trial, they’re communicating their intentions,” Danielle Gilbert, assistant professor of military and strategic studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy, told ESPN.
“Dragging out her detention, missing court deadlines these are key indicators that we should question the legitimacy of her arrest, precisely why the U.S. classified it as a wrongful detention.”
Jones holds a record of 66-9 with 47 KOs. He won titles at 160 pounds, 168, and 175 before capturing a heavyweight title in 2003. The Hall of Famer is trying to add hostage negotiator to his extensive athletic résumé and hopes to use his Russian status to bring Griner home.