Brittney Griner

Growing up in a rural area of Houston, I dreamed of flying planes and working on cars—pretty much anything but playing basketball.
Brittney Griner
Griner, as a seventh grader on Teague Middle School’s volleyball team, in Humble

When I was born, my family lived near Humble in a quiet neighborhood on a cul-de-sac. I’m the baby, and I have an older brother and two older sisters. My sisters were usually in the house talking on the phone or watching television, but I was always outside. I remember playing in the front yard and climbing trees, but I wasn’t allowed to go any farther because my mother wanted to keep an eye on me. We knew everybody on the street, and I’d wave to people as they drove by. I knew everyone based on the car they drove.

When I got older, we moved to Dayton, out in the country, and lived on about an acre and a half. We had some woods on our property, and I would go back there and hunt squirrels or ride my go-cart—I was always getting into something. It would drive my mom nuts when I went into the woods, because she couldn’t see me. Once, she saw too many snakes and made me come back inside.

I was a daddy’s girl, and I was a tomboy. He got me interested in working on cars at an early age, and I remember that my hands were always oily and my clothes were stained with grease. Our family drove a Honda and a Lexus, and in the evenings we’d work on them out in the driveway. To this day I know how to change the oil and the transmission fluid, and I can fix a flat tire. I even wanted to enroll in auto mechanics in high school, but I wasn’t able to because it conflicted with my basketball schedule.

My dad worked as a police officer in Houston, and he recently retired. He would leave early in the morning, and he’d get home about an hour or so after I got back from school. I’d get a Lunchable and sit in my chair and watch The Magic School Bus. And as soon as that show was over, I would hear him pull up in his police Camaro. I’d run outside in my bare feet—I can still remember tiptoeing across the hot cement—to meet him. I liked to hear stories about his day, and I also liked to hear his stories about when he served in Vietnam. Sometimes he’d get out his scrapbook and show me pictures of himself overseas. When I was really little, I wanted to be in the Air Force, but now I don’t think I could fit in the cockpit.

My dad played football when he was in high school, but my mother

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