WNBA’s Newest Superstar Battles Bullying

Brittney GrinerBrittney Griner knows what’s it like to stand out in a crowd.

As a girl who eventually grew to be 6-foot-8, she towered above most of her classmates in school – both the boys and the girls.

And the bullies noticed.

“Back then, when I was younger, it was tough,” Griner said in an interview with USA TODAY.

Basketball was Griner’s savior – along with love and support from her parents.

“My dad and my mom have always told me, ‘be who you are,’” she told USA TODAY reporter Scott Gleeson.

Now, after four record-setting years at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Griner is about to begin her professional basketball career with the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA.

But she hasn’t forgotten what it was like to get “picked on for being different,” as she told the Associated Press (AP).

So now, she plans to use her fame – and her size – to battle bullying.

“I overcame it and got over it,” she told AP reporter Doug Feinberg.  “I want to work with kids and bring recognition to the problem.”

Griner faced bullying even while winning a national championship at Baylor – not from her classmates, but from fans of opposing teams.

“People always have something to say,” she told USA TODAY.  “I just feel like, ‘who cares what they say.’”

But she recognizes how difficult it is for kids who haven’t had a chance to build up the inner strength she now has.

“I can’t help but cry when I talk about bullying, just thinking about the suicide rate,” she told Gleeson.  “I know what those kids are going through.”

Griner has a message for those kids, and all kids in general:  Don’t be afraid to be who you are.

“Don’t worry about what other people are going to say,” she said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.  “They’re always going to say something.  But if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through.  Don’t hide who you really are.”

At Brittney Griner’s height, hiding has never really been an option.

Now, she plans to do everything she can to help kids facing bullying to stand tall, just like her.