Maya Moore is one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all-time.
At Connecticut, she was a 2-time NCAA champion, 4-time All-American and 2-time National Player of the Year. Professionally, she is a 4-time WNBA champion, WNBA Finals MVP, WNBA MVP, and 6-time WNBA All-Star.
However, at the height of her illustrious career, she decided to add another accolade to her incredible resume: freedom fighter.
Moore shocked the basketball world in February 2019 when she announced that she would sit out the 2019 season to help advocate for prison reform.
She immediately turned her attention to the case of Jonathan Irons, who in 1998, at age 18, was wrongfully convicted for a burglary and shooting at the home of Stanley Stotler in O’Fallon, Missouri.
Irons was only 16 when the crime took place, but was still tried as an adult.
In a recent story for the New York Times, it was revealed that Moore, who was born in nearby Jefferson City, met Irons when she visited the Jefferson Center Correctional Center before her freshman year at UConn.
Moore, now 31, became a strong voice for prosecutorial changes. In early 2019, she stunned the sports world by announcing she would take a timeout from basketball, in part so she could devote more time and energy to helping Irons mount what they thought would be his final appeal. She used her fame to raise awareness and helped fund the hiring of Kent Gipson, a highly regarded defense attorney based in Kansas City, Mo., to handle Irons’s case.
On Wednesday, Moore’s efforts paid off when Irons was released from prison.
An emotional Irons thanked Moore, expressing his gratitude and excitement to finally be able to move forward with his life.
“I feel like I can live life now. I’m free. I’m blessed. I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence.”
The social media world praised Moore for her dedication to making a difference during a trying time in America.
Thursday, on Good Morning America, Moore spoke about the moment she saw Irons walk out of prison.
“In that moment, I really felt like I could rest. I’d been standing, and we’d been standing, for so long; and 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.”
It’s unclear if Moore will return to the WNBA soon, but for now – and forever – Moore is officially a champion on and off the court.
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