When she finally returned home following a hellish prison stint in Russia, Brittney Griner’s trademark dreadlocks were gone. She looked like a different person without it, and more than a few folks were curious about the timing of her decision to cut it.

As it turns out, it had a lot to do with Griner’s survival instincts while inside the Russian penitentiary. The WNBA star did not cut her hair just because she wanted a new look, but apparently, the decision was made out of necessity.

Brittney’s Russian attorney, Maria Blagovolina, revealed that according to Griner herself, she cut out her dreads two weeks prior to her release because she feared that they would freeze during the long Russian winter:

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“It’s very cold in there and every time she washed her hair she got cold and would get a chill,” Blagovolina said, via T.J. Quin of ESPN. “She should have waited until New Year’s Day.”

That’s actually very telling of Griner’s mindset in her final few weeks in prison. She did not know that her prison term was coming to an end and she was already preparing for the worst. This just goes to show how difficult life was for the Phoenix Mercury center inside the Russian penal colony. It’s also as if she had abandoned all hope that she was going to get out soon.

Fortunately, the U.S. government delivered on its promise to get Brittney Griner back before the New Year. It was a long and difficult process, no doubt, but the most important thing right now is that Brittney is finally home.