Photograph by Brandon Sullivan
Hailed as the new face of the WNBA, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (and Out100 honoree) is handling success on her own terms. She was the number one draft pick in 2013 and after casually coming out in an interview with SI.com, she became the first openly gay athlete signed by Nike. The 23-year-old’s memoir,In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court, candidly describes her journey to self-acceptance, homophobia in sports, and the truth behind that fateful interview.
As a bullied teen, Griner found that what had ostracized her in middle school—her height—made her a star on the basketball court. Standing at her present 6-foot-8 by the time she was 17, Griner found that the sport also gave her the confidence to be open about her sexuality. While her mother was supportive, Brittney’s father disapproved of his daughter being a lesbian. They fought bitterly, forcing Brittney to temporarily move out and stay with her basketball coach.