Brittney Griner has appeared in every All-Star Game of her career since being selected with the first overall pick of the 2013 draft until this weekend. The 2022 WNBA All-Star Game is proceeding in Chicago without her, unfortunately, as the Phoenix Mercury superstar remains wrongfully detained in Russia.

As support for Griner's release and return to the United States continues to swell domestically, the WNBA shined an even brighter light on her palpable absence from the season's marquee event. The 31-year-old was named an honorary All-Star starter for Sunday's exhibition, and received a raucous ovation from an adoring crowd at Wintrust Arena.

Griner, playing in Russia's women's basketball league during the WNBA offseason, was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17th after law enforcement found her carrying a vaporizer cartridge that contained hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia.

She's been held by the Russian government ever since, many deeming her a political prisoner due to sustained tensions between the United States and Russia intensified by the latter's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022—the beginning of a war that's already cost approximately 50,000 lives.

Griner penned a heartbreaking letter to President Joe Biden on July 4th, urging him to bring home all American wrongfully detained worldwide. Biden wrote her a return letter several days later, one her wife, Cherelle Griner, said gave them confidence the administration is “exhausting all efforts” to bring Griner home.

Brittney Griner's trial began on July 1st. She pleaded guilty to a drug charge last week, stressing to the judge that she had “no intent” of breaking the law. The next hearing is scheduled for July 14th.