The full impact of Griner’s body of work has always been bigger than basketball. It’s a story of confronting discrimination, breaking glass ceilings and leading radical change

The images of Brittney Griner from 17 April 2013 are striking. It was the night of the annual WNBA draft, and Griner was beaming from ear to ear. For months, everyone expected her to be chosen first by the Phoenix Mercury. But when WNBA commissioner Laurel J Richie called Griner’s name from the podium as the top overall pick, there was a separate and nearly tangible anticipation in the room.

Because in that moment, Griner became the most prominent openly gay basketball player in the world.

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