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FlyJ

Glory Johnson Surprised Even Herself When She Fell In Love With a Woman

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FlyJ    68

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Glory Johnson and Brittney Griner made a glamorous, swashbuckling pair. The towering professional basketball rivals fell in love when Griner, an iconic lesbian, pursued Johnson, who had always dated men. Johnson, at 6 feet ***, and Griner, at 6 feet 8, dazzled on the courts with their ability to dunk, as only a few women in the world can do. Off the courts, they posted playful shots on Instagram, announced an engagement, and stole the show on Say Yes to the Dress.

 

Then things went haywire. Just weeks before the marriage, an argument turned physical, and the women were arrested for domestic violence. Nevertheless, they wed in May of this year, and soon after, Johnson announced that she was pregnant, a result of artificial insemination. The very next day, Griner filed for an annulment. They had been married for 28 days.

 

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Johnson says she was blindsided and confused — and remains so today. "I don't understand," she says. "I want to understand." The 25-year-old athlete is on leave from professional basketball amid a difficult pregnancy and birth — at press time, she had just given a very premature birth to twin girls. Johnson, who spoke to Cosmopolitan in the weeks before the birth, says she wants to set the record straight. Many of the reports on the high-profile relationship, she says, have been misleading.

 

Walking the streets of Manhattan on a recent trip, the blue-eyed Johnson, in a black cap and ripped skinny jeans, looks at ease, describing how she played "as many sports as possible" as a child. One of five siblings, she was born in Colorado and later moved to Tennessee with her parents, an engineer and an intensive-care nurse. She became a high school hoops star and went to the University of Tennessee, finishing an undergraduate degree in global studies and a graduate degree in journalism and electronic media in just four years. In college, she played against Griner, a famous shot blocker for Baylor, but didn't know her personally. (Representatives for Griner said she declined to comment for this story. Griner's lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.)

 

In 2012, Johnson was picked in the first-round draft of the Women's National Basketball Association, going to the Tulsa Shock in Oklahoma. In the off-season, she moved abroad, as female players often do, to play for a team in Russia. She had a boyfriend in Tennessee, but the couple couldn't weather the travel and time zones. She focused on her game, becoming a two-time WNBA All-Star, averaging 14.7 points a game in 2014.

 

Johnson and Griner connected at a basketball camp in Las Vegas in 2013. Johnson noticed that Griner — drafted first overall that year by the Phoenix Mercury — found excuses to hang around her. One night, when a group of friends went to see Cirque du Soleil, Griner made her move, sitting next to Johnson and putting her arm around her.

 

Ordinarily, Johnson would have brushed off such a move from a woman, she says, but on this night, she went with it. With the buzz from a round of tall cocktails and the acrobats flying in the dark, the evening felt "pretty romantic," she says. "I wasn't thinking about her being a female. She was just somebody who was showing me a really, really good time."

 

More drinks flowed after the show, and Griner escorted Johnson to her hotel room in the wee hours. In the room, things got interesting. "It was really awkward because what do you do when you've never been in this situation with a female before?" Johnson says. Griner, deep-voiced with dreadlocks and size-17 feet to anchor her lofty frame, put Johnson at ease with her swagger. "We finally laid down and were about to go to sleep. Of course, there was a little bit more that happened," Johnson says. "As I was getting more and more comfortable, more and more was happening."

 

The next morning, the women looked at each other and smiled. "It was literally a moment like, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," Johnson says. The two went their separate ways but met up again later after a game in Tulsa. They went home together — then missed a flight with their teams the next morning. Their names were blasted on the airport intercom, and their secret was out. By the summer of 2014, Johnson says, they were a couple.

 

Some people wanted to define her. "Not a lot of people understand it. They wanted me to be a lesbian who converted from being straight," she says. "It just doesn't work for me like that." She remains straight, she says. She simply fell for an individual. "I've had men that needed to step up more as a man than Brittney," she says. "I was set."

 

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In August of 2014, Griner dressed up in bow tie and took Johnson to a party, hinting about giving Johnson a lap dance. "I was nervous, like are you really going to do a lap dance in front of all these people?" Johnson says. Later in the evening, Griner bellowed into a microphone: "Tell my girlfriend to come over here!" Johnson joined her and sat in a chair, where she was blindfolded. People started cheering. Off came the blindfold. Griner was down on one knee with a ring.

 

"I automatically started crying," Johnson says. "I was just shaking my head like, it's too much for me right now." Griner said to nod her head yes or no, and she nodded yes. But she felt rattled, unprepared. "I just needed to get away from everybody. You see all these lights flashing and all the cameras. I was boohooing, hiding my face in her shirt." Johnson fled to the bathroom. Griner paced nervously on the street.

 

"Was I ready for it? Probably not," she says. "What am I going to say, no? All the cameras are in my face." Her friends, concerned, pounded on the bathroom door, telling her she didn't have to say yes. Still, she says, "I was happy at the same time. It was something that I wanted." The women went home together an engaged couple.

 

Johnson began spending much of her time with Griner, traveling with her for the play-offs since her own season had ended. Johnson says Griner wanted her constant companionship. It felt excessive, she says, but "I thought, am I going to support her or am I not?" Later that year, the women parted ways for the off-season: Johnson went to Russia, and Griner to China. The distance proved challenging. Griner posted a shot on Instagram without her ring, Johnson says, spurring an argument. In retrospect, Johnson says, that was the moment things started to unravel.

 

Eventually, Johnson joined her fiancée in China at Griner's request, she says, giving up her season and paycheck in Russia. But the women argued again when Johnson discovered that Griner had been dishonest about texting with a former girlfriend. Johnson tried to move past it, but she had lost trust. She resolved to leave.

 

"I packed up all my stuff," she says, sending her fiancée reeling. Griner broke down and locked herself in the bathroom. Johnson began to worry about Griner's state of mind. Griner has spoken publicly about having had suicidal thoughts in her youth. "I knew she had that side of her," Johnson says. After clearing the room of sharp objects, Johnson decided to stay, she says, because she feared what might happen if she left.

 

That night was a turning point, and the pair decided to start anew. They made plans to buy a house together and start a family. It seemed like a logical time to get pregnant, since Johnson was sitting out her Russia season. The women agreed she would sit out the full year and do in-vitro fertilization, then train hard after the birth and try to get traded to the Phoenix team. They connected with a doctor in Phoenix and picked a sperm donor — a blond, blue-eyed man, chosen by Griner, says Johnson.

 

In Arizona in the spring of 2015, the women went to counseling and marched forward, starting IVF, buying a house, and moving two of Johnson's sisters in as nannies. The pair still argued, especially when Johnson questioned or challenged Griner, she says.

 

On April 22, one of those arguments exploded, as police reports document. The women were at a Lowe's with Johnson's sisters when Johnson asked Griner if she remembered to get a measuring tape. Griner snarked that Johnson wouldn't know what a measuring tape is. "She's always a smart-ass, and she thinks it's funny," Johnson says. "Eventually, her being a smart-ass causes us to fight, and then it's not funny anymore." Back home, she pulled Griner aside and asked her not to be disrespectful in front of her sisters. "She started throwing a fit, huffing and puffing," Johnson says. One of Johnson's sisters tried to defuse the situation, but it got worse. "Brittney put her whole palm in my face," Johnson says. "I knocked her hand out of my face, and I put my hand on her shoulder and moved her to the side." Griner stormed off, cursing and calling her names, Johnson says.

 

A few minutes later, when the women passed each other, Griner grabbed the back of Johnson's neck and threw her head down. "I've never been grabbed or thrown like that ever in my entire life, not by anybody," Johnson says. "At that point, everything was out there. We were fighting. We were scrapping." Griner hurled a glass dog bowl. "Her eyes were dead black," Johnson says. "I thought I could talk to her, but she was not there." She recalls Griner saying, "I've got something for you" and heading to the bedroom. At that point, her sister Judy Johnson called 911.

 

Johnson says now — although no one revealed it to the police — that Griner had a gun in the house. (Arizona allows weapons without a permit.) Johnson didn't know about the gun at the time, but her sister Judy did. And Judy says her fear that Griner was going to get the gun was the reason she called 911. "I thought the situation was way out of control and something needed to be done," she says.

 

The other sister present, Grace Johnson, says she saw a gun in the house later, after the arrests. Grace says she also saw Griner hit Johnson over the head with a metal case, another detail that no one told police. Johnson says she stayed quiet to protect her fiancée.

 

Griner and Johnson went to jail and shared a cell, confounding Johnson. "If it was serious enough for the police to arrest us and they have no idea what the story is, why would they put us in the same cell?" she asks. "Brittney's sitting right next to me. I'm crying, shaking, because I'm so pissed off that I just got arrested for her." In the holding cell, the two had a deep talk, Johnson says. "We both understood that we went overboard."

 

Griner, who had a scratch on her hand and wrist and a bite mark on her finger, pleaded guilty and went into a domestic violence course. Johnson, who had a scratch on her face and was diagnosed with a concussion, according to the WNBA, pleaded not guilty. At press time, her case was pending.

 

It's not the first incident of relationship violence between two female basketball players, but it is the most prominent. In separate cases in 2012, two former WNBA players were reportedly arrested in same-sex domestic-violence incidents. And while the issue of same-sex relationship violence receives far less attention than male-on-female violence, a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that LGBT women may be at greater risk. Over a lifetime, 35 percent of straight women will experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by a partner compared with 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women.

 

The WNBA suspended both women for seven games, even with Johnson's case still unresolved — a decision Johnson questions. The league says its policy is to do its own investigation in matters of domestic violence, independent of a police investigation. Johnson says she told the league that Griner had gone to retrieve a gun. The WNBA did not mention a gun in a public statement on the case (the league does not disclose details of its investigations).

 

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Johnson says that she and Griner got along better after the fight. They married in the mountains of Phoenix on May 8. Johnson wore a white gown, and Griner wore a suit with sneakers. "I thought I married the person I was supposed to be with," Johnson says. "You work things out and fight for what you love." Some family members had advised her to leave, but she didn't listen. "It wasn't about other people. It was about us," she says. "Brittney was crying about how happy she was I stuck with her and promising she'd make it worth it. You can call me stupid for believing her, but I trusted this person."

 

Later that month, Johnson learned she was pregnant from the IVF. Around this time, she made a comment to the press about the fight, saying the women each knew why they pleaded the way they did. Johnson says she meant that it was their own business. But Griner was furious, accusing her of throwing her under the bus.

 

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On June 4, Johnson announced the pregnancy with Griner's blessing, she says. One day later, Johnson's agent called to say that Griner had filed for an annulment. The news was in the press. Johnson says she was stunned. In the annulment filing, Griner said that she had married under pressure from Johnson and implied that she wasn't really involved with the IVF. Later, in a revised filing, she said she was involved but, again, under pressure from Johnson.

 

Johnson was floored by the claims. She pulls out her phone and plays a pair of videos shot by Griner that she's never shared before. In one video, the women are at the fertility clinic, joking about their future kids, with Griner referring to herself as "Dad." In the other video, Johnson takes her pregnancy test in the bathroom while Griner watches, playfully teasing her fiancée. Griner says to Johnson, "Even if you're not pregnant, I still love you."

 

In the revised filing, Griner also accused Johnson of infidelity during the courtship and of texting with a former boyfriend during the engagement. Johnson says the claims are false. She says her last relationship was with the boyfriend from Tennessee, and it came undone long before she and Griner became a couple.

 

Johnson now finds herself in a financial fix. She makes half-pay while on leave from the WNBA and will make no pay overseas or from endorsements while off the court. Meanwhile, she says she is stuck with bills for the IVF, wedding, and furniture for the Phoenix home, among other expenses. A judge denied a request from Johnson for temporary spousal support, but she could potentially file for child support. Separately, a judge denied Griner's annulment request, meaning the two would need to divorce.

 

Johnson's pregnancy was challenging. She was bedridden in the early days and then again after nearly miscarrying. In October, she gave birth, just five months after becoming pregnant. At the same time, she is preparing to pack up and move from Tulsa to Dallas, where the franchise owners are relocating the team. "I can't do this by myself," she says. "I have male friends, sweet guys that are offering to help me, and I'm not handling it well. I'm pushing it away because I don't trust anybody. I hope I get to a point where I can give somebody a fair chance, because I was so trusting before."

 

Still, she says she has no regrets about marrying the person she loved. "I followed my heart," she says, pausing for a moment. "After all the things that she put me and my family through, I should hate this person. But at the end of the day, I still worry about how she's taking all this," she says, referring to the breakup fallout.

 

She says she has dealt with the strain and disappointment of the past year by looking outside herself. "I couldn't allow myself to get stressed," she says. "I had to think about the health of the twins." But the sudden end to the relationship continues to haunt and mystify her. "I have dreams about it sometimes. One dream I had, we sat down and talked about it for the first time."

 

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dequeen    31

Kai! First of all, I wish I could hear Griners version. Secondly, how on earth did she end up with all those bills?!! Well, that's life. As Funmi Iyanda said recently, " if you find yourself in a pot of soup, you might as well lick it all up".

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kimi    59

On a lighter note, a set of twins never stopped anyone from getting laid or getting latched to the next moving target! Life goes on...

:rolleyes:

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Calllaris    24

"After all the things that she put me and my family through, I should hate this person. But at the end of the day, I still worry about how she's taking all this,"

Johnson's recount sounds honest, afterall she's truly having a baby. (IG). Truth is its never going to work except one person says it must.

They seemed to have a plan together. How such falls apart, I can't tell.

"Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone, dial and ask "do you still love me?" - anonymous

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relangel    3

Oh quite touching. All we do for love believing it will work out as one dreams but reality of life if we can tell what the future holds, there some dreams we wldnt dare dream to avoid manifesting in regrets. . .

 

Wish her the best

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