In the winter of 2019, Minnesota Lynx star and former WNBA MVP Maya Moore made a stunning announcement: After eight professional seasons, she was stepping away from the game of basketball. She later revealed that she was focusing her efforts on fighting for the release of a Missouri man named Jonathan Irons, whom she believed was wrongly imprisoned.
Now, a little over two years later, Moore has helped overturn Irons' wrongful conviction. Irons has been in prison for 22 years after being convicted of burglary and assault in St. Louis, but his lawyers argued there was no evidence to connect him to the crime. On Monday, a judge agreed. Via ESPN:
Judge Daniel Green's ruling granted Irons' petition for a writ of habeas corpus, vacating his convictions for burglary and assault. He placed a stay on the order, allowing the state 15 days to request a review by the appellate court. If the state does not appeal, then St. Charles County has 30 days to decide if it wants to retry Irons.
"It's a very good day," said Irons' attorney Kent Gipson. "But it's not quite over yet."
Moore, who recently announced she will continue to sit out both this WNBA season and the Olympics, brought increased media attention to Irons' case, and started a petition requesting he be given a fair trial.
"We are in the world and the world is broken.” @mooremaya talks with @MichelMcQMartin about criminal justice reform and her fight for Jonathan Irons. pic.twitter.com/MgVPLm75rV— Amanpour and Company (@AmanpourCoPBS) October 25, 2019
While Moore's absence has been felt on the court -- the Lynx went 18-16 last season and barely made the playoffs -- Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve is extremely proud of what her star player is accomplishing.
"Over the last year we have been in frequent contact with Maya around the great work in criminal justice reform and ministry in which she is fully engaged. We are proud of the ways that Maya is advocating for justice and using her platform to impact social change."
Moore, understandably, has no regrets about stepping away from the game to fight for something bigger than basketball.
"It is so sweet to see the redemption that came from stepping away and giving what I had to this case," Moore told the New York Times on Monday. "It feels like we are holding up that Final Four trophy, but there are still a couple of steps."
Even so, the success they've had so far was enough to bring Irons to tears.
"She saved my life," he told the Times. "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."