Maya Moore has spent years advocating for the release of Jonathan Irons, who has spent over two decades in a Missouri penitentiary. When he was released on Wednesday after having his conviction overturned earlier this year, the WNBA star was there to greet him.
Moore shared footage of Irons, a 40-year-old African American man who was convicted on charges of burglary and assault at the age of 18, being greeted by her and his family outside the Jefferson City Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison.
In March, a Missouri judge vacated Irons’ 1998 conviction, citing how the case used to sentence Irons to 50 years in prison was “very weak and circumstantial at best.” A thorough recounting of Irons’ case and Moore’s involvement in reversing his conviction can be read here in a report by Kurt Streeter of The New York Times.
Moore and her family originally became familiar with Irons’ case through prison ministry. Moore first met Irons during a visit in 2007 amid her freshman year at University of Connecticut, where she carved out an iconic collegiate career with the Huskies.
The Minnesota Lynx superstar is a four-time WNBA champion, onetime MVP (2014) and one of the greatest players in WNBA history. She announced in February 2019 in an essay for The Players’ Tribune that she was putting her career on hold at its peak to pursue social justice causes and focus on her family and “ministry dreams.”
In January, Moore, 31, announced that she would continue her WNBA sabbatical for at least another season.