The WNBA playoffs are less than a month away, and as part of its “Nine for IX” short film series, ESPN has released Lifesize: Brittney Griner, a profile of the WNBA All-Star. The series covers an array of female subjects throughout the history of athletics and is appropriately named after the historic Title IX ruling, which was a transformative blow for gender discrimination in sports.
The film profiles Griner’s supplemental career playing basketball professionally in China. She and many other WNBA superstars play overseas in the league’s off-season, as their pay is far greater there than the five-figure salaries most players receive stateside.
Griner, who was recently announced as among The Advocate's "40 Under 40" for 2014" came out publicly as a lesbian after being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, and in the film, she continues to be open and vocal about her sexuality. She talks about how her girlfriend Cherelle keeps her grounded while, “everybody [else] is too busy kissing my ass.”
While in China, Griner admits to feeling immense homesickness, as she was the only American on her team in a foreign country. Cherelle, Brittney’s family, and particularly her nephew are all back home in the United States, a constant struggle for Griner despite fame, money and success she enjoyed in China. Thankfully, the junk food aficionado still gets her fix of American fast food and candy, although she has evolved to eating Skittles with chopsticks.
Throughout the film, Griner and fellow WNBA player Maya Moore both allude to the relatively low salaries of WNBA players, particularly when compared to those of their male counterparts. Therefore, the still-existing discrepancy in professional athletics between men and women is blatantly apparent in their story, despite its “Nine for IX” namesake. In the meantime, Griner remains a strong favorite for the 2014 WNBA MVP, and her team is currently best in the West.
The film will air Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN, or watch the video now on the following page.