WNBA player Ariel Atkins reported she is safe while playing with the Ukrainian basketball team amid deadly invasions by Russian forces this week. The Washington Mystic point guard posted to her Instagram story on Thursday (February 24) that she is no longer in Ukraine and asked her followers to direct their prayers to her teammates' families.
"I appreciate all the love and concern," Atkins wrote online. "I am NOT in Ukraine. Please send a prayer up for my teammates, their families and everybody in our organization who is still there and has family there." The Dallas, Texas native reportedly made her way to Bulgaria where she is safe.
She applauded her teammates' bravery this week as they played a "home game away from home" as Russia invade their homeland.
"Can't even put into words how proud I am of my Ukrainian teammates for drying up their tears and giving their best tonight," Atkins wrote on Instagram. "Please be aware of what's happening in the world and educate yourself on the effects of a potential war and in this case an actual war. Because if you think this is only going to effect Ukraine anymore, think again."
According to reports, Atkins is one of several WNBA players rostered on European teams to leave Ukraine this week after a Russian military invasion began.
The WNBA confirmed to USAToday that players "competing this off-season in Ukraine are no longer in the country."