Maya Moore’s winning ways continued on Monday afternoon.
That victory didn’t take place on the basketball court as we have seen numerous times in the past, however, but off it.
For the last few years and more extensively since the start of the 2019 year, Moore has held an objective of trying to help prove her close friend, Jonathan Irons, had been wrongly convicted of burglary and assault convictions in 1997 while he continued to serve a 50-year prison sentence.
Moore wanted to assist in helping free her friend from prison after serving 23 years for a crime both Irons and Moore were convinced the now-40-year-old never committed.
On Monday, Moore was present at a court hearing in her hometown of Jefferson City, Mo. to hear the ruling that a judge had vacated Irons’ guilty verdict, proving he was indeed wrongfully convicted of the charges while ordering he be released from prison after two-plus decades behind bars.
“It felt so surreal,” Moore told the New York Times in an interview after the hearing concluded. “We finally have justice. I was just thinking, ‘Did this really happen? Did it?'”
Prior to the start of the 2019 WNBA season, the Minnesota Lynx star announced that she would sit out the entire season to focus on her “ministry dreams” and specifically the case of her close friend, Irons.
With another league year on the horizon this summer, Moore recently announced she would sit out a second straight WNBA season, not taking the floor for the Lynx in 2020 while also sitting out the Tokyo Olympics to “continue to push for criminal justice reform and the release of Jonathan Irons.”
But now with the Irons case and his conviction being overturned, does that change things for Moore and her basketball career?
Don’t plan on it. At least not yet.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Moore said she still plans to take the year off even with the positive news of Irons potentially being released from prison soon.
“My decision to take another year was bigger than this case,” Moore told the Associated Press. “But obviously this case was in the forefront of my mind. I’m looking forward when this is done to finally getting some rest and time with my family.”
Although she will be spending time away from the basketball court once again this summer, Moore hasn’t ruled out an eventual return to the court where she has achieved endless success. She recently stated publicly that she doesn’t feel ready to retire from the WNBA, leaving the door open to coming back to Minnesota in the future.
But right now, Moore will continue to remain focused on things outside of basketball and specifically a close friend she has grown close to since meeting him in 2007 at the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri.
And for Irons, he is grateful to have the support of a basketball legend who is continuing to make an even larger impact off the court.
“She saved my life,” Irons told the New York Times following the news of Monday’s hearing. “I would not have this chance if not for her and her wonderful family. She saved my life and I cannot say it better than that.”