STORY: Brittney Griner has been sentenced to 9 years in jail by a Russian court.
The U.S. basketball star was found guilty on drug smuggling and possession charges.
She was arrested six months ago at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.
Before her sentencing, the two-time Olympic gold medallist pleaded with the judge for leniency.
"My parents taught me two important things: one - take ownership for your responsibilities, and two - work hard for everything that you have. That's why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that has been said against me, the charges that are against me, and that is why I pled guilty. But I had no intent to break any Russian laws. I made an honest mistake and I hope that, in your ruling, that it doesn't end my life here."
The sentencing could pave the way for an extraordinary U.S.-Russia prisoner swap.
It could include 31-year-old Texan Griner and a Russian national imprisoned in the United States, Viktor Bout, who was once one of the world's most prolific arms dealers.
His life helped inspire the 2005 Hollywood film "Lord of War" starring Nicholas Cage.
Russian officials have said a deal on a prisoner exchange has not been reached.
They argue that Griner violated laws and should be judged accordingly.
The case has thrown Griner into the geopolitical maelstrom triggered when President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.
With U.S.-Russian relations at their most strained since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President Joe Biden is under pressure to intervene on behalf of Americans held in Russia.
"I know that everybody keeps talking about "political pawn" and politics but I hope that that is far from this courtroom."
Griner had been prescribed medical marijuana in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries.
It's a treatment method that is common among elite athletes, as it has fewer side effects than some painkillers.