NBA

Why Maya Moore Left the WNBA for a Year

UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT- August 17: Maya Moore #23 of the Minnesota Lynx during the Connecticut Sun Vs Minnesota Lynx, WNBA regular season game at Mohegan Sun Arena on August 17, 2018 in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Last season, Maya Moore chose to not play to focus on something bigger than basketball.

Moore worked on a case involving a man who was wrongfully accused of burglary and assault.

Moore met Jonathan Irons while working on a prison ministry. Irons’s case compelled more to help out, as she believed he was wrongfully convicted.

In 1997, at the age of 16, the Jefferson City police arrested Irons on charges of burglary and assault. Even though there was no DNA, fingerprint or physical evidence relating Irons to the crime, he was still charged.

On change.org, Maya Moore wrote about Iron’s story and explained his trial. At Irons’s trial, he had to face an all-white jury and ended up being sentenced to 50 years in prison.

“Jonathan’s conviction was based solely on unreliable eyewitness testimony. Credible witnesses who could have provided testimony to Jonathan’s whereabouts during the time of the crime were never brought to court to testify, and Jonathan was interrogated by authorities without a guardian or attorney present, even though he was a minor. Moreover, when the shooting victim indicated that he couldn’t identify his shooter, police officers told him to give his ‘best guess’ which led to his guess of Jonathan.”

Sacrificing Everything 

Moore was not just any basketball player; she is one of the most decorated in WNBA history. Going into the season she would walk away from, Moore had four WNBA titles, a league and finals MVP along with multiple college accolades. She also excelled in the Olympics, helping the US bring home two gold medals. Moore is undoubtedly one of the greatest Lynx and WNBA players of all time. With all this success, you may think she would keep going, cementing her legacy; instead, she chose to step away from the game to help work on Irons’s case and other matters.

While Moore was succeeding in the WNBA, she had someone helping her out. Her godfather, Reggie Williams, worked behind the scenes, gathering evidence that would prove Irons not to be guilty. In this time, Williams was able to find multiple pieces of evidence to overturn the judges ruling so long ago.

Once Moore left the game of basketball, she went around to various panels and spoke on national television stations about Irons’s case, and how he was wrongly convicted. 

All of Moore’s hard work finally paid off. She got Irons a second chance in court, and his lawyers had all the evidence they needed to overturn his case. Irons was released on July 1st and was greeted by his family along with Moore. Maya Moore achieved something larger than herself and proved her absence from basketball was worth it.

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