She took her passion from one court to another.
International Women’s Day was this past Sunday, March 8th, but with a story like this, every day feels like Women’s Day (as it should, of course).
If you’re not into basketball or the NBA, then it’s unlikely you’re familiar with the WNBA and the outstanding players it contains. One such player goes by the name of Maya Moore. She is currently signed to the Minnesota Lynx but she hasn’t been doing a lot of playing recently. She made headlines back in January for removing herself from her team’s season, but not for an injury or misbehaving—it was all in the name of justice.
Back in 2017, Moore went on a tour of the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri where she met an inmate by the name of Jonathan Irons. Irons was accused of burglarizing a home and assaulting the homeowner and was convicted to 50 years in prison at just 16 years old. His case lacked everything you normally need to convict someone of a crime: fingerprints, DNA, any type of evidence whatsoever, but this all-white jury didn’t let that affect their decision. When Moore heard his story, she knew it was time to take action and bring Irons some justice.
Not only did she pay for his defense team and show up to court in his honor, but Moore announced she would be putting her basketball career on hold and also removed herself from consideration of the 2020 Olympic team in order to make a statement. “Basketball has not been foremost in my mind,” she said when asked about her decision, “I’ve been able to rest, and connect with people around me, actually be in their presence after all of these years on the road. And I’ve been able to be there for Jonathan.”
Well, congratulations are in order for both Moore and Irons: after serving 22 years of a 50-year sentence, Jonathan Irons’ case was overturned on Monday! Not only was it overturned, but the Judge on the case granted a writ of habeas corpus. If you’re like, ‘cool but what’s that even mean’, I got you. Basically, this is a court order demanding that the person in question be brought to court to show that this person is being held on lawful grounds. Which translates to ‘show us the evidence or set him free.’ And because there obviously wasn’t any evidence (as we all knew), Irons was finally released.
In an interview following the ruling, Moore couldn’t hold back her emotions. “This day has been a long time coming. We are just so grateful and thankful to God and to everybody who has played a role in bringing justice.”