It Will Get Better..

Taller than 99.35 percent of all Americans, with the wingspan of an albatross…

“I’m living proof that no matter where you’re at or how hard it is, you can come out of it,” she said with assurance. “The key is you just can’t give up. Keep believing in yourself.

“It will get better.”

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Brittney Yevette Griner, Performer Artisan twenty two years old and came to fame as an American women’s college basketball player at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. The first NCAA basketball player ever to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. In 2012, the three-time All-American was named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Griner has earned just about every individual and team basketball award imaginable, (including a perfect 40-0 season to capture the NCAA’s “National Championship”) in 2012.  In her four years at Baylor University she  amassed a career 3,383 points, an all-time NCAA record of 748 blocks while averaging over 21 points per game and leading her team to an 108-13, winning record.

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Standing 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) tall, Griner wears a men’s US size 17 or 18 shoe and has a wing span of 7 foot 4 inches.

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Arguably Baylor’s most decorated recruit in any sport ever… Ranked as the nation’s top player by all of the recruiting services … Dunked the ball 52 times in 32 games as a senior … Averaged 33.0 points (1,290), 15.5 rebounds (608), 11.7 blocks (459), 3.4 steals (136) and 3.1 assists (122) as a senior at Houston’s Nimitz High School … Career totals include 3,114 points, 1,586 rebounds, 939 blocks, 268 steals and 198 assists..”

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In 2009, Griner was named the nation’s #1 high school women’s basketball player by Rivals.com. and in 2009 selected to the McDonald’s All-American basketball team.

Brittney Griner

“She’s special, guys. I hope you guys understand that. She’s been special for an awfully long time and she’s gotten better and better and better. That’s a young lady who, I think, is arguably the best player in the world now because of what she can do on both ends of the floor.”

• Bonnie Henrickson – Kansas, head coach

“She’s developed a bit of aggressiveness and a few more ways to score than she has in the past. That has made it really difficult to defend her. The only thing that you can do is hope that she misses or hope that they don’t get her the ball enough times.”

• Geno Auriemma – UConn, head coach

“Griner has changed the game. I’m just glad she didn’t dunk on us. She really defensively changes the whole game. Every time you drive in there, no matter who is guarding you, she’s going to be at the rim to block a shot. We didn’t get as many shots around the basket as we had hoped to. Certainly she changed our game.”

• Muffett McGraw – Notre Dame, head coach

“I don’t think there’s any limits on how good she is. When you have somebody like that, she’s not only special but she makes everybody around her special. You know about point guards that do everything right and make other people around them better, she makes people around her better.”

• Jim Littell – Oklahoma State, head coach

“She is just impossible, probably, to contain. In order to put pressure on Baylor, you have to score the ball.”

• Suzy Merchant – Michigan State, head coach

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In an interview with SI.com on April 17, 2013, Griner acknowledged that she is gay.  Brittney also revealed in the interview that she was bullied as a child, explaining:

“It was hard. Just being picked on for being different. Just being bigger, my sexuality, everything”.  I overcame it and got over it. Definitely something that I am very passionate about. I want to work with kids and bring recognition to the problem, especially with the LGBT community.”

Asked why it’s more accepted to be a gay athlete in women’s sports than men’s:

“I really couldn’t give an answer on why that’s so different. Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are,” Griner said. “Again, like I said,  just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. 

Don’t hide who you really are.

I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all.  If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

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Virtuoso performers in the fine arts, or on stage and screen, are apt to be Artisans, but we must not forget that virtuosity in performance can be achieved, or at least sought, by any of the Artisans: not only the figure-skater, but the surfer, the chef, the sculptor, the surgeon, the racer, the mountain-climber, the gambler, the politician, the fighter-pilot, even the con artist and the gunslinger of the Old West. [Please Understand Me II]

..or basketball:

” I just want to bring a little bit different part of the game to the league; just playing above the rim, blocking shots, dunking and playing with a high intensity. I want to bring that and excite the crowd. A lot of people say, “It’s not exciting to watch the women play,” and I ask them, “Well, how many games have you been to?” They’re like, “Oh, well, I haven’t been to a game,” and I’m like, “Then how do you know?” But I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re going to start watching because I’m here. If I can get them to come, they’ll see everybody else and see the talent level, and see how exciting the women’s game can be.”

The Tactical Performer [ESFP]: Performing is putting on a show or demonstration of some kind to entertain others, and Performers are the natural performers among the types, people for whom it can truly be said “all the world’s a stage.” Playful and fun-loving, these expressive Artisans’ primary social interest lies in stimulating those around them, arousing their senses and their pleasurable emotions — charming them, in a sense, to cast off their concerns and lighten up. Such Performers radiate warmth and festivity, and whether on the job, with friends, or with their families, they are able to lift others’ spirits with their contagious good humor and their irrepressible joy of living.

Performers do quite well when life is easy for them, and they don’t let themselves get too caught up in what they call “sticky” situations. Their tolerance for anxiety is the lowest of all the types, and they will avoid worries and troubles by ignoring the unhappiness of a situation as long as possible. “Always look on the bright side,” is their motto, and if forced to endure a tense, complicated situation (at work, for example, or in a love relationship), they will not make waves or put up a show of resistance. They will let themselves appear outwardly concerned — and then go their own way to do what they enjoy. Performers are the most generous of all the types, and second only to the Composers in kindness. They haven’t a mean or stingy bone in their body — what’s theirs is yours — and they seem to have little idea of saving or conserving. These Artisans view life as an eternal cornucopia from which flows an endless supply of pleasures that require no effort on their part to create or to insure. Essentially communal in outlook, they give what they have to one and all without expectation of reward, just as they love freely, and without expecting anything in return. Performers are emotionally expressive and affectionate people, virtually unable to hide their feelings or hold their tongue. With their emotions so close to the surface — their heart forever on their sleeve — they tend to fall in love easily, impetuously, and always as if for the first time. [Please Understand Me II]

brittney and kareem

 

When I got there for rookie orientation, it was like, “Okay, this is cool. I’m not going to lose my composure or get teary eyed.” Then on draft day, when they said, “10 seconds” until the show comes on, my heart started going really fast. They said, “five seconds,” and it started slowing down. Then they said my name and it was like my heart stopped. I was thinking, “Get up! Get up!” So I got up and hugged my dad and my godfather, and I went up there. My eyes started watering and got all red. I just got caught up in the moment and I didn’t want to let go. A lot of emotions. It was like, “This day has finally come! I can say I am a professional athlete.”

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Longboarding is relaxing.I have like 5 or 6, it’s like my time away. I normally go at night and put on some music. I just ride and think about a lot of stuff. I like the thrill of carving back and forth down the street, coming down parking garages.

It’s just fun.

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Talking about her number, 42, in honor of Jackie Robinson:

” I had the number before I knew the whole story, but I wanted to change my number at one point. Then I heard his story and all that he went through, the race barrier that he broke through and all the torment that he got, all the criticism, and how people threw black cats on the field. People were so rude to him, but he couldn’t say anything. He couldn’t react. And I could relate to that a little bit, because I’ve gone into arenas where people said awful, mean and hateful things to me. I can’t say anything back or they’ll just feed on that, “Oh yeah, I got to her!” So when I heard his story, I had to keep that number.”

Brittney Griner, Bunny Williams, Chelsea Gardner

To understand how much Griner breaks the mold of female hoops stars, look at the greats that paved the way for her dominance. Most of the truly famous women’s basketball players—Sheryl Swoops, Cheryl Miller, Tina Thompson, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Nancy Lieberman—are all 6’3″ or shorter. The so-called giants of the women’s game were Rebecca Lobo and Lisa Leslie, who dominated the WNBA in its early years as centers for the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks. Leslie is 6’5″, and Lobo is 6’4″. Griner, meanwhile, is either 6’8″ or 6’9″, depending on which official record you believe. In other words, even the tallest women’s basketball legends would need a lofty pair of Louboutins to stand eye-to-eye with Griner.

Because of her height advantage over every one of her peers, Griner can occupy the vertical space between the bottom of the backboard and the rim with impunity. Though Griner excels at all facets of the game, her most notable skill is blocking shots. She defends the rim with ease and challenges most shots in the paint and rebounds, leading to some eye-popping blocks numbers during her career at Baylor. The senior has averaged more than five blocks per game over the past 3+ seasons, topped by a staggering 6.4 rejections per game in her freshman year. Since then, Baylor’s opponents have tailored their offensive game plans to avoid Griner’s long arms, and she has still averaged 4.7 blocks a game.

No player in the NBA today—not LeBron James, not Dwight Howard, not anybody—approaches the effect Griner has on opposing offenses with her overwhelming height. In the history of basketball, the closest parallel to her athletic superiority over her peers is the early NBA years of Wilt Chamberlain, when he literally towered over the competition, blocked everything in sight and scored 100 points in a game that one time…[Jake Simpson Mar 21 2013 The Atlantic]

LeBron James tribute to Brittney:

Last words from Brittney:

“Just as basketball doesn’t define who I am, neither does being gay.

But that doesn’t mean life was easy growing up. I was bullied in every way imaginable, but the worst was the verbal abuse. (I was always a strong, tough and tall girl, so nobody wanted to mess with me from a physical standpoint.) It hit rock bottom when I was in seventh grade. I was in a new school with people I didn’t know, and the teasing about my height, appearance and sexuality went on nonstop, every day.

People called me a dude and said there was no way I could be a woman. Some even wanted me to prove it to them. During high school and college, when we traveled for games, people would shout the same things while also using racial epithets and terrible homophobic slurs.

(That’s nothing compared with the horrendous things people call me online today — if you don’t believe me, look at the comments about me on Twitter and Instagram.)

No one deserves to go through that type of abuse. When I was young, I put on a face as if it didn’t hurt, but it’s painful to be called hateful names and made fun of because people thought my feet were huge or that I looked like a guy. It was hard to hear antigay slurs under their breath whenever I walked by them. It always confused me; I never thought that to be beautiful, you had to look any certain way at all. In my opinion, you’re beautiful because you are you.

Still, some people have it worse. I think about what Matthew Shepard had to face when he was tortured and chained to a fence in 1998 — I am thankful that Jason, as a veteran professional athlete, took the opportunity to remind people so that it never happens again. I think about that often, but I also think about the kids in middle school and high school today who daily are made to feel so bad about themselves that they contemplate not wanting to live anymore. That really hurts my heart because I’ve been there.

I’ve had moments when I questioned my place in the world. At times, especially in seventh grade, life was lonely and I’d often feel sad. I never wanted to deny who I was, but dealing with the sadness and the anger that came from people constantly making fun of me wore me down at times. I relied heavily on my mom, family and friends to lift my spirits and help me through it — and still do.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out exactly where I fit. During that journey, I realized that everyone has a unique place in this world. I also discovered that the more open I was with my family and friends, the more I embraced others, and the more committed I became to doing the things I love, like basketball, skating and, of course, eating bacon (the greatest food of all time), the more love and confidence I received in return.

I just had to hang in there and be myself.

That’s why I have become involved in the It Gets Better project, whose mission is to inspire hope for young people facing harassment and bullying. Because, people, it’s time for bullying to end. Nobody should have to hear the types of things I did or to feel the way I have.

The good news is that I do see change coming. It might be slow, but there are so many positive signs. After being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury and with more media acknowledging my sexuality, I’ve received more hugs, tweets, thank-yous and well-wishes in regard to being “out” than ever.

Countless people have come up to me and thanked me for being proud of who I am.

It’s my job now to, I hope, be a light who inspires others.”

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Video of It Get’s Better, from It Gets Better Project:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQoJAh0kIIg

0 thoughts on “It Will Get Better..”

  1. Brittney makes it all look so easy. Great, powerful, agile athlete who is also a role model taking a stance against bullying because she has lived it.

  2. great blog, temperament angle, sport, gender, sexuality society/culture constructs, sexism, racism, homophobia, and at end of day, her actions speak. brittney is an inspiration in so many ways.

  3. I can’t believe the shit she has had to deal with, attacks and mocking her sexuality, color, insults to her physical appearance. What is it so threatening to people exactly? Now she stands up for others, giving back. Maybe a great armspan, but nothing matches her great heart. Coolest blog I’ve read.

  4. Brittney, just by being Brittney, showing us how well she enjoy life and sport can show us it’s okay not to have to be a construct of society, culture in gender and sexuality. This is an excellent blog from this temperament perspective, looping it all together. Great courage and an unbreakable free spirit. When you think about how things can turn out for these delightful Artisans, the drugs, alcohol, addictions, early demises, Brittney is showing us powerful leadership here just by being herself.

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