Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner's No. 42 jersey retired by Baylor: ‘Just full of emotion'

Griner's jersey was raised to the rafters at the newly-opened Foster Pavilion on Sunday

Brittney Griner
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Former Baylor Bears player Brittney Griner reacts as her jersey is retired before the game between the Baylor Bears and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Foster Pavilion on Feb. 18, 2024 in Waco, Texas.

Brittney Griner's No. 42 jersey was retired by Baylor on Sunday, when the two-time AP national player of the year and career blocks leader attended a Bears home game for the first time since her senior season 11 years ago.

Griner was part of Baylor's 40-0 national championship team as a junior during the 2011-12 season, the first of her consecutive AP player of the year awards. Her final home games were when the Bears won in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Ferrell Center on campus in March 2013, including three dunks in her final game there, before losing the following weekend to Louisville in the Sweet 16.

The jersey was raised to the rafters in the new Foster Pavilion, where Baylor began playing last month. The ceremony before a game against Texas Tech included video highlights from her career. Griner was visibly touched by the reaction from the Baylor fans, waving at them and patting her heart though she didn't address the crowd.

“Just full of emotion,” Griner said during an in-game interview on the ESPN broadcast. “As soon as (the jersey) started to go up, that’s when I started to break.”

Griner said it meant everything to be honored and appreciated by the school that she gave so much to during her time there. She completed her Baylor degree in 2019.

In 148 games over four seasons with Baylor, the 6-foot-8 center averaged 22.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.1 blocked shots per game. Griner's 3,283 total points that are a Big 12 record and fifth on the NCAA career list, and her 748 blocks still stand as an NCAA record for women or men.

Nicki Collen had said since becoming Baylor's coach three years ago that she wanted to retire the No. 42 jersey. Before Sunday's game, Collen said she pushed for that because she believed it was right for the program and Griner.

Collen wore a gold blazer with No. 42 prominent on the back. The jacket also had many of Griner's accomplishments stitched on the sleeves.

Griner's coach at Baylor was Kim Mulkey, who won three national titles in her 21 seasons with the Bears before returning to her home state as LSU's coach in April 2021.

"I think it's awesome,” Mulkey said Saturday, when asked about Griner's jersey being retired by Baylor.

No one has worn No. 42 for Baylor since Griner finished her college career.

Phoenix selected Griner with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, and she has been a six-time All-Star while spending her entire career with the Mercury. She is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

It is the seventh women's basketball jersey retired by Baylor, the others being Odyssey Sims, Melissa Jones, Nina Davis, Suzie Snider Eppers, Shelia Lambert and Sophia Young. Griner was teammates with Sims and Jones.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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