WNBA star Brittney Griner filed for an annulment of her marriage to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson yesterday, one day after Johnson announced that she was expecting a child. There is a lot going on here, so let’s refresh our memories with a timeline.
August 14, 2014
Griner and Johnson are arrested after a fight between the two becomes violent. They are arrested in the Goodyear (Ariz.) home that they bought together two days earlier.
Griner—but importantly not Johnson—pleads guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and as a condition of her plea enters a domestic violence diversion program.
Griner and Johnson are married at a Phoenix-area resort:
After a thorough-seeming investigation into their arrests, which they say included interviews with the players and witnesses as well as reviewing “the police report, medical records, photos and other materials,” the WNBA suspends Griner and Johnson for seven games without pay apiece, determining that they are equally at fault. In a statement, the WNBA says their account of the incident was “largely undisputed,” and describes it thusly:
Brittney and Glory were involved in a physical altercation with each other at their home. It began when Glory pushed Brittney in the shoulder and Brittney pushed Glory in the back of the neck. The confrontation escalated to include wrestling, punches, and the throwing and swinging of various objects. Brittney received a bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist, and Glory received a scratch above her lip and was diagnosed with a concussion.
On April 28, Brittney pleaded guilty in Goodyear City Court to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and entered a diversion program. The assault charge was dismissed. Brittney is required to complete a 26-week domestic violence course, and if she successfully completes the course (and meets other standard conditions), the disorderly conduct charge will be dismissed. Glory’s case was transferred to county court and is still pending.
Sports Illustrated publishes a story on the fight that led to Griner and Johnson’s arrests, which includes information from a medical evaluation (given to them by Johnson’s lawyer) completed two days after the arrests. The evaluation says Johnson was hit twice by a “hard carrying case,” and a CT scan shows she suffered a concussion. In an interview, Johnson says that Griner was the aggressor:
If I’m being fought,” Johnson said during an exclusive interview with SI.com last Thursday. “I’m not just gonna sit back … there’s probably a better way to handle it. But at the time … you’re just thinking of protecting yourself and doing what you need to do to stand up for yourself.”
She also disputes the WNBA’s conclusion about the incident, and while she is clearly hesitant to say that she is innocent and Griner is guilty, she more or less does:
“[The WNBA] definitely knew about it,” Johnson said, referring to her injuries and how they occurred. “And that’s another reason it surprised me that they came up with the same conclusion. I’m not going to throw Brittney under the bus … and she’s not going to throw me under the bus … [but] what the [WNBA] did not say in the statements they released was that I pled not guilty … So for them to release a statement saying that we were both guilty in the situation, it’s not right. It’s not correct … Brittney pled guilty … Brittney understands why I pled not guilty, and I understand why she pled guilty … she was even willing to speak to whoever she needed to, to get the point across.”
Sports Illustrated identifies many instances of confusion regarding the case. Johnson says that police officers told her that when a same-sex couple gets into a fight, the policy is to arrest them both, while a Goodyear police officer tells SI that the policy was either “misunderstood or misrepresented” to Johnson, and that both parties are arrested only when officers cannot determine the aggressor. After being asked to comment, the Tulsa Shock (Johnson’s team) stands by the WNBA’s findings, while the Phoenix Mercury (Griner’s team) say they are confused because the medical evaluation information wasn’t in the police report they saw.
Nevertheless, Johnson tells SI that she loves Griner, and SI writes “throughout last Thursday’s [May 30] phone conversation, she laughed whenever Griner’s name came up—there was a lightness in her voice, even when she was describing something difficult between them.” Johnson also says she and Griner have met with fertility doctors, but that she is looking forward to playing against Griner this season.
The Tulsa Shock announces that Johnson is pregnant and will miss the upcoming season. In the statement Johnson says:
“It has always been a dream of mine to start a family with someone I love,” said Johnson-Griner. “Being a professional athlete that plays year round, there is never a perfect time to get pregnant without putting my career on hold.
The entire process, from learning our fertility options, to making the sacrifices necessary nine months before this child is born, is merely preparing me to become a great wife and an even better mother. The hardest part is sitting out this WNBA season, being away from my loving teammates, and not being able to be on the court and play for our devoted fans.
Right now, I not only have my health to worry about, but also the health of this little one resting inside me. Rest assured, I will be back next season, stronger and more ready to play then ever!”
TMZ reports that Griner has filed annulment papers, just 28 days after the wedding. The papers allege “fraud and duress” and that Griner was “pressured into marriage under duress by [Johnson’s] threatening statements.” They also say that Griner has no biological connection to the child that Johnson is pregnant with.
ESPN obtains the following statement from Griner:
“Last Wednesday, Glory and I agreed to either legally separate, get divorced, or annul our marriage. I can confirm that today I filed for an annulment. In the week prior to the wedding, I attempted to postpone the wedding several times until I completed counseling, but I still went through with it. I now realize that was a mistake.”
They also speak with Johnson’s agent, who tells ESPN that she is “extremely hurt and blindsided” by the unexpected filing, and that Johnson “loves Brittney and made a huge sacrifice to carry a child, put her career on hold, invest in their relationship and their future.”
Meanwhile, the WNBA season opens en masse, and the Mercury beat the San Antonio Stars while the Shock lose to the Minnesota Lynx. Neither Johnson nor Griner play.
So in the past six weeks Griner and Johnson bought a house, were arrested, had a wedding, got pregnant, and now are apparently separating. Those are all momentous occasions; any one of them occurring is a big deal, let alone all five of them. Given Johnson’s apparent surprise at the filing of the annulment and the fact that she is pregnant, there is certainly more to come with this story. I feel pretty confident in saying that it isn’t going to end well.