Two seasons ago, future WNBA Hall of Famer Maya Moore put her career on hold at its peak, to focus on the exoneration of a man who she didn’t even know named Jonathan Irons, who spent two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Maya’s act of sacrifice in the name of social justice preceded the global movement against police brutality and systemic racism that formulated in the aftermath of the callous George Floyd murder.
When Maya first left the sport to focus on Irons’ vindication, she said she wasn’t returning until he was released. With Irons’ release from Missouri’s Jefferson City Correctional Center on Wednesday evening, maybe we will see her suit up again in 2021.
Moore was overwhelmed with emotions when she saw Irons emerge from behind the steel gates of oppression.
Unless, of course, she wants to help another falsely convicted African-American man gain his freedom. The four-time WNBA champion and 2014 League MVP is just as adept at bulldog freedom fighting as she is at crossing over defenders and draining jumpers.
Maya and Jonathan appeared live on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts.
Jonathan got 50 years at age 16 for a robbery and when Maya got wind of the situation she did some of her own investigating and saw many holes in the story
His conviction was overturned this past March which paved the way for his release.
Irons wouldn’t have gotten his rightful release without the concern, sacrifice, and persistence that Maya showed. He’d be another Black male jammed up by the system and rotting away in a correctional facility, promise unfulfilled, another Black dream deferred.
Maya’s story didn’t get the ink it deserved when she first left the league to work on Irons’ case. With the heightened awareness for systemic racism inspiring many white people to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives matter slogan, her sacrifice is finally getting the proper attention and respect.
People need to understand how huge this is. Maya Moore is one of the most decorated basketball players of all time and she halted her career IN HER PRIME to right an injustice. This is just amazing. https://t.co/y51FROlLZP
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 2, 2020
In the wake of COVID-19 — and the strides Black Americans have made through protesting, new legislative proposals for policing, and a reinvigorated focus on fixing systemic racism that has held Blacks back for centuries — Atlanta Dream players Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes and Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud, all opted out of the 22-game, COVID shortened season to focus on further advancement of social issues affecting African-Americans and advocacy.