BY KENAN DRAUGHORNE
Basketball player Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian court Thursday, pleading guilty to drug possession while saying she unintentionally brought vape canisters with cannabis oil into the country.
The WNBA star, whom the Biden administration in May classified as wrongfully detained, could now face up to 10 years in Russian prison, furthering calls for the government to do more to secure her return to the U.S.
While Griner’s legal plight has played out in Russia, her attire on Thursday had deep roots in Los Angeles. Emblazoned on her red T-shirt as she walked into the courtroom was the word “Crenshaw,” a reference to the South L.A. neighborhood and a logo made famous by Nipsey Hussle and his Marathon Clothing brand.
Hussle’s work in apparel dates back to 2006, when the late rapper, entrepreneur and activist launched Slauson Tees on the same corner of Crenshaw and Slauson where he first sold CDs out of his truck.
In 2017, the brand evolved into the Marathon Clothing Store, taking its name from the title of Hussle’s early mixtape “The Marathon,” along with a message about resiliency and overcoming obstacles that he wanted to impart to the next generation.
“That’s why I called my thing the marathon,” Hussle told Big Boy TV in 2018. “I’m not going to lie and portray this ultimate poise like I been had it figured out. Nah, I just didn’t quit. That’s my only distinguishing quality ... I went through every emotion trying to pursue what I’m doing.”
The Marathon Clothing has given Crenshaw plenty of high-profile visibility over the years. Drake shouted out the brand’s flagship design on his 2020 song “Time Flies,” singing: “Just threw on a hoodie, it’s a Crenshaw.” The year prior, NBA star LeBron James rocked a custom Lakers jersey, reimagining the throwback royal blue threads with the Crenshaw logo above his number 23.
Moreover, it’s become a staple in Los Angeles along with the wider hip-hop community. It wasn’t the only time Hussle repped his neighborhood through clothing. In 2017, he collaborated with Leimert Park artist Six Sev to create the Slauson Super Mall hoodie, paying homage to the green-and-orange swap meet on Slauson and Western avenues.
Later this year, Hussle’s family is set to open “The Marathon Store No. 2" along Melrose Avenue.
Hussle’s killer, Eric Holder Jr., was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Meanwhile, President Biden and other government officials say they’re doing all they can to bring Griner home, with Biden recently calling her wife, Cherelle, to reiterate their efforts.
However, many are calling for the U.S. to be more aggressive in its work to ensure the detained athlete’s release after she’s been held in a Russian jail since mid-February.
Several have pointed out the fact that she likely wouldn’t have even been playing basketball in Russia if WNBA players were paid equitably compared to their male counterparts in the NBA. (WNBA players on average make about $120,000 per 36-game season, compared to NBA players who bring in an average of $5.4 million across 82 games.)
“In a society where men and women athletes were valued equally, female basketball players would not need to travel overseas in the offseason to earn extra money,” The Times’ editorial board wrote Wednesday while calling for Griner’s release.
“Professional players, whether men or women, would earn good salaries here at home. But that’s not the society we live in.”
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