At a home just outside Houston listed as a former address for Ms. Griner, a basketball hoop lay rim-down in the backyard grass, visible from a neatly tended and quiet cul-de-sac. A sign on the front door suggested the long, arduous and public difficulties faced by her family: “No Media. No Trespassing. Just Pray. Thanks.”
Ernest Alfaro, who lives two doors down, said he and his family had been praying for Ms. Griner and for her father, Ray, who he said still lived in the home. In a statement, members of the Griner family thanked President Biden and his administration and requested privacy “as we embark on this road to healing.”
Since the time Ms. Griner disappeared into the Russian prison system, said Mr. Alfaro, a pastor at a local church, “We started praying for her family.”
Ms. Turner, Ms. Griner’s teammate, said she had corresponded by letter with Ms. Griner during her confinement but had not heard from her since mid-October, when she was moved to the penal colony.
“In the beginning, I felt denial, and then I was confused, and then I was like, ‘How is this possible?’” Ms. Turner said. “There’s so many millions of people that live in America, and I happen to know one of the few who are detained in Russia. Even today has felt surreal.”
Vince Kozar, the president of the Mercury, had also been exchanging letters with Ms. Griner. The Mercury had tried to keep her plight in the public eye during her imprisonment as a way of reminding the Biden administration how many people wanted her home, Mr. Kozar said.
So too did Chris Mosier, a pathbreaking transgender endurance athlete who has competed for the U.S. internationally.