Griner’s Heart Set on Helping Others

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com

Unfortunately, Brittney Griner knows all too well what it’s like to be bullied.

“I went through it basically my whole life,” Griner said during a brief moment of down time on her WNBA media tour in New York. “It was a daily, constant thing for a while. People would make fun of my voice, how big my hands were, how tall I was – you name it.

“I definitely can’t repeat most of the stuff they said to me.”

Bullying is, without question, a horrific and ugly experience to go through. And it remains a very real and rampant problem in today’s society.

Brittney Griner is determined to attack it head on with the Phoenix Mercury’s help.

“If you’re being bullied, you have to tell someone,” Griner said. “You can’t keep all that bottled inside you. I think people really do want to help, but sometimes you have to take that first step and let someone know what’s going on.”

After getting to know Griner and seeing how compassionate and kind she is, it’s absurd to imagine why anyone would want to treat her negatively. Then again, the concept of bullying at its core is utterly ridiculous and illogical.

Bullying of any kind to anyone should never, ever be acceptable.

When Griner was growing up, she relied on support from her family and close circle of friends to help her during some of the more trying times. To her immense credit, when she looks back on the worst of the worst, she doesn’t do so filled with anger.

In fact, she said it’s “freeing” not to let resentment consume her; she’s a jovial, happy and benevolent person at heart. Holding onto that anger would prevent her from being the Brittney so many people know and love.

Instead, Griner has developed a sense of inner peace knowing that the affronts people sordidly hurled (and sometimes still do) said more about them than it does her. Griner said this is the exact feeling of self-assurance she wants to motivate in others who are being bullied.

Still, that certainly doesn’t mean attaining that level of comfort was remotely easy.

“Trust me, I know it’s hard,” Griner said, beginning to speak to anyone who might currently be dealing with a bully. “It does hurt. But I think if you just stay committed to rising above the hate, it will get better. Actually, I know it will.

“I lived it.”

It’s not hard to conclude that at some level, Griner is grateful to have gone through and overcome what she did so she can help others do the same. That concept might be difficult for most of us to fathom; how could anyone be thankful for going through something like that?

But we’re not Brittney Griner.

“It starts with being absolutely comfortable with you are,” Griner said confidently. “If you’re that, nothing they say can really get to you. I admit that I wasn’t always at peace with that, but I’ve learned over the past few years to be totally fine with who I am.”

Griner has already started planning initiatives on how to combat bullying. She has aligned herself with the “It Gets Better" project and has already used her growing platform from being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft to encourage and inspire confidence in others.

“It’s really not about me,” said a humble Griner. “But if I can help anyone, even just one person, it will be worth it. I feel like I am in a great position to give back and encourage those who are down, and it’s very important for me to get started and follow through.”

For all of her accomplishments on the basketball floor, perhaps her greatest achievement has been the example of love, grace and resilience she’s demonstrated while rallying against hate.

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

“It will get better.”