At the height of her career, WNBA superstar Maya Moore stepped off the hardwood and missed the 2019 and 2020 seasons to fi-ght for what she believes in.She walked away with her biggest victory yet.
After years of working to obtain freedom for Jonathan Irons — a man acc-used of bu-rglarizing a home in the subu-rbs of St. Louis, Missouri, and as-aulting the homeowner with a g-un when he was just 16 years old — Moore was on hand when Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green overturned Irons’ conv-iction back in March. Green cited exc-ulpatory evidence that he said was withheld during Irons’ initial trial, which is consistent with Irons’ insistence that he has long been misidentified as the cu-lprit in question.
Though the state of Missouri pursued appeals on Irons’ case, Green’s decision ultimately stood. And on Wednesday, Moore was on-site to watch the now-40-year-old walk free for the first time in 23 years.
Moore posted an emotional video of the moment to her Instagram. The four-time WNBA champion and six-time league All-Star fell to her knees as she watched Irons walk through the pr-ison doors. She subsequently joined a group hug with Irons and his loved ones.
The video went viral on social media, with many across the world of sports and beyond applauding Moore for her efforts in the pursu-it of justice and the sacrifices she’s made in order to help free Irons.
Moore and Irons appeared on Good Morning America on Thursday to discuss the feat with ABC’s Robin Roberts. Irons said he is “absolutely ela-ted and thankful to be here in this moment right now.””I want to rest and get my legs up under me and be able to stand,” he added. “There’s a lot to adjust to out here and I’m going to take it slow. I’m surrounded by people I know who love me and have my best interest in mind so I’m going to listen to them and study and learn all I can.”
Moore sacrificed a lot to help give Irons the opportunity to do so. She advocated for Irons’ appeal by helping to pay for his defe-nse team and regularly showing up at court to show her support. As a result, Moore not only missed two WNBA seasons during the prime of her career but also committed to missing out on the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“When I stepped away two springs ago, I just really wanted to shift my priorities to be able to be more available and present to show up for things that were mattering more than being a professional athlete,” Moore said. “This is obviously one of the biggest and most direct results of that.”
Moore isn’t sure if or when she’ll rejoin her Minnesota Lynx on the basketball court, but said she’s feeling ready to rest for the first time since she devoted her life to securing Irons’ freedom.
“We’ve been standing for so long and it just, it was an unplanned moment where I just felt relief. It was kind of a worshipful moment, just dropping to my knees, and just being so thankful that we made it,” Moore said of the moment when Irons was released. “Honestly, my rest is going to start now. I haven’t really been able to have the fullness of the rest that I wanted, and I’m like, ‘Okay, guys, now it’s time to take a bre-ak.'”
As for Irons, he hopes to follow in Moore’s footsteps and devote his life to helping those who find themselves in the situation he did.”When I get the time and the opportunity and the resources and the provision, I want to be able to reach back and help other people,” Irons said. “I want to advocate for people who are less fortunate. I want to help people with their cases. I want to speak to positive change and be a part of the rebuilding process from where we are right now because there’s so much greater coming on the horizon and I see it.”
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