Brittney Griner revisits tough times
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Brittney Griner repeats her intention to play for the United States in the 2016 Olympics and details some of what she says led to a schism in her relationship with Baylor and coach Kim Mulkey in excerpts from an upcoming book.
In the book "In My Skin," Griner writes of her former university: "I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it's hard to do that -- it's hard to stand up and say, 'Baylor is the best!' -- when the administration has a written policy against homosexuality. I've spent too much of my life being made to feel like there's something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it still doesn't erase all the pain I felt there."
The excerpts were published by USA Today on Thursday. The book is scheduled to be released April 8.
In the book, Griner indicates that her relationship with Mulkey was strained late in her senior season in 2013, which ended with a loss to Louisville in the regional semifinals. Baylor was a heavy favorite to win the national title.
In an interview with ESPN last May, Griner's father, Ray, accused Mulkey of shying away from Griner because "there's nothing in it for Kim anymore, so she's done with Brittney."
Griner, who came out publicly in an April 2013 story in USA Today, said that she never asked Mulkey if she could come out publicly while in school.
"I already knew the answer," she told ESPN in May 2013. "I didn't want to hear 'No.' It was a recruiting thing. The coaches thought if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids play for Baylor."
In the book, Griner accepts blame for the Louisville loss but says Mulkey was at fault, too.
"Cracks existed beneath the surface. And the game against Louisville, with the pressure cranked up, blew those cracks wide open. ... I didn't deliver the way I usually did, and Kim got outcoached. We both underperformed," she wrote. "We had created something magical for almost four years, and that night we watched, almost helplessly at times, as it melted away. We were left staring at all our warts and flaws, all the things about each other that drove us crazy. And we didn't have a national championship, the piece of shiny jewelry, to distract us from that reality."
Griner did not play in the 2012 Olympics after pulling her name from consideration prior to final selections. At the time, she cited an unspecified family illness (she told ESPN in the May 2013 interview that her mother, Sandra, had been diagnosed with lupus) and her summer school schedule. After the announcement, she broke her right wrist in a longboard accident.
In the ESPN interview, she said of those who thought she didn't play because she would be subject to gender testing: "I read all of that garbage."
In her book, she went a step farther, saying: "I have every intention of playing for the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, if I'm selected for the team. And if some country wants to issue a challenge, bring it on. I don't have anything to hide. I'll do whatever I need to do, prove whatever point I need to prove, so I can play. And then maybe everyone will finally shut up."
Griner has played for USA Basketball internationally, including a 2011 tour of Europe with the national team. She is one of 33 players in the 2014-16 USA Basketball national team pool, 12 of whom will be on the 2016 Olympic team.
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