Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore is known for being on the front lines to fight against social injustice, so when her longtime friend was finally released from prison after being wrongfully convicted—the WNBA icon rejoiced.
According to published reports, Jonathan Irons, who was sentenced to a 50-year prison bid for a crime he didn’t commit, was embraced by the WNBA. star, who sacrificed her 2019 season, as he walked out of a Missouri penitentiary on Wednesday (Jul 1) nearly four months after a judge overturned his conviction on charges of burglary and assault.
“I feel like I can live life now,” Irons said. “I’m free, I’m blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence,” Irons said. “I thank everybody who supported me — Maya and her family.”
Irons, who was wrongfully convicted in 1998, caught the attention of Moore her freshman year of college through a prison ministry program in 2007. After hearing his story, she and Irons became fast friends, and she dedicated herself to seeing him released from prison.
Irons was convicted in 1998 of burglary and assault with a weapon of a suburban St. Louis homeowner. At the time, he was 16 but was charged as an adult despite there not being evidence to link hm to the crime.
The owner of the home testified that it was Irons who broke into his home. However, there were no other witnesses, fingerprints, or DNA linking him to the crime. An all-white jury convicted him and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
After serving 22 years in prison, Irons was released from Missouri’s Jefferson City Correctional Center, with his advocate, Maya Moore, there to greet him. The moment was captured and shared to Moore’s Instagram, which showed the baller dropping to her knees and rejoicing at the release of her friend.
Despite the release of her long time friend, Moore made the announcement earlier this year that she would take another leave of absence from her beloved profession fo the 2020 season to continue to lend her voice to fight injustice.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Moore announced that she would not be playing in the 2020 season, before adding that she was also removing herself from consideration to join the U.S. Olympic team, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, stating that her “decision to take another year was bigger than this case.”