Brittney Griner's No. 42 jersey retired at Baylor in emotional ceremony

Brittney Griner watches as her Baylor jersey is retired. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Brittney Griner watches as her Baylor jersey is retired. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) (Ron Jenkins via Getty Images)

Baylor retired Brittney Griner's No. 42 jersey in an emotional ceremony prior to Sunday's game against Texas Tech.

Griner returned to Baylor for the ceremony at Foster Pavilion, 12 years after leading the Bears to an undefeated national championship. Griner was introduced to a rousing ovation as players and fans in the stands wore T-shirts emblazoned with her No. 42. She then joined head coach Nicki Collen at center court for the ceremony.

The program then unveiled the banner honoring Griner before lifting it into the rafters as Griner watched with her hands covering her face.

She wiped tears from her eyes as the banner rose to the rafters.

"Just full of emotion," Griner told ESPN during the game. "As soon as it started to go up, that's when I started to break. It just all came together at the right time."

Griner wrote about what the honor means to her in a January statement when Baylor announced that it was retiring her jersey.

"I'm honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started," Griner's statement reads. "I'm grateful to Coach Nicki and the entire Baylor community and looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment. Sic 'Em Bears."

Griner's remarkable Baylor career

The 2011-12 Bears finished 40-0 and capped a wire-to-wire season as the nation's No. 1 team with an 80-61 win over Notre Dame in the NCAA championship game. Griner averaged 23.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.2 blocks en route to consensus National Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors that season as a junior.

She won National Player of the Year honors again the following season before being selected first overall in the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury. She finished her Baylor career as a three-time All-American. Griner remains with the Mercury, with whom she's made eight All-Star teams and won a WNBA championship.

Griner returned to the Mercury in 2023 after being imprisoned in Russia for 294 days. Per the U.S. government, which negotiated a prisoner swap to bring her home, Griner was "wrongfully detained" as a political prisoner under Vladamir Putin's regime. She made her eighth All-Star team upon her return after missing the 2022 season.

The Mercury congratulated her for Sunday's honor on social media.

Griner's is the seventh jersey to be retired by Baylor.