A year and a half ago, one of the world’s best basketball players, Maya Moore, a four-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, stepped away from the game. She put her career on pause to devote time to the case of Jonathan Irons, a wrongfully convicted man. He was more than two decades into a 50-year prison sentence on charges of breaking into a home and shooting the owner, who survived.
No physical evidence had ever connected Irons to the crime. A judge ruled in March that the prosecution had suppressed fingerprint evidence that might have helped exonerate Irons.
This summer, Moore’s work, and that of many others, finally paid off. Irons was released from prison on July 1. On Wednesday September 16th, the 31-year-old Moore and 40-year-old Irons appeared on Good Morning America to make another announcement. They were married.
To Moore fans who’ve followed her work, their romantic relationship comes as a surprise. It turns out that Moore has known Irons for a long time. They met when Moore was 18, through Moore’s godparents, who had been advocating for Irons through a prison ministry. Thereafter, she began speaking publicly about racial injustice and the failures of the justice system. But even in the time since Moore announced that she was taking time off from the league to focus on the Irons case in February 2019, she’s never let on that there was a romantic attachment.
A Powerful Story
Some people say that Moore’s romantic connection to Irons diminishes the sacrifice she made by taking two years off, in the prime of her career, to help overturn his conviction. But having a personal connection to a matter of injustice doesn’t make the effort any less noble. It merely makes the victory sweeter. And who better to advocate for a person’s freedom than someone who cares deeply for him?