When we talk of what it is to be “more than an athlete,” the phrase made famous by LeBron James’ media brand UNINTERRUPTED, it’s not always about what one does in their time in between games.
Sometimes, circumstances require that you put your career, your entire livelihood on hold in order to be “more than.” There is no greater example of this and champion than Maya Moore.
Moore, a WNBA superstar, put her career on hold in February 2019 to pursue social advocacy work.
Moore’s main focus was on a 40-year-old man named Jonathan Irons, who has been stuck in maximum security prison for the past 23 years after a burglary and assault charge with a deadly weapon in Missouri.
Irons, then just 16, was tried as an adult and convicted by an all-white jury to 50 years behind bars.
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To the nearly 75,000 people who have shown their support for our cause through our change.org petition: thank you. Wednesday represented another step in Jonathan’s journey and we remain hopeful for what’s to come. Please continue to share the petition (link in bio) with others. We’re hopeful that with your help, we will have Freedom for Jonathan before year’s end! Together, we will #WinWithJustice!
Monday, Irons’ initial conviction was overturned. Moore’s advocacy since her departure from the WNBA just over a year ago had its intended effect.
“She saved my life and I cannot say it better than that,” expressed Irons in a phone interview.
Irons grew close to members of Moore’s family through their volunteer prison and ministry work in the early 2000s.
Maya met Irons in 2007, and after one of the most prestigious and victorious beginnings of a basketball career in history, she decided to step away from the game of basketball and focus on Irons’ case full-time.
“It is so sweet to see the redemption that came from stepping away and giving what I had to this case,” said Moore.
“It feels like we are holding up that Final Four trophy, but there are still a couple of steps.”
Through Moore’s advocacy, Irons’ case was able to receive heightened national attention and scrutiny, which eventually led to his conviction being overturned.
Moore partnered with Change.org, a leading petition platform for change, to create the Win With Justice social campaign.
“Injustice to one is an injustice to all #JusticeForJonathan,” the campaign read.
Moore is a two-time NCAA Champion, a first overall pick of the WNBA Draft, and a four-time WNBA Champion with enough additional accolades to turn this sentence into a scroll from the middle ages.
She has won and excelled at every level she has played in her basketball career, yet has taken a break from the game that has given her so much, to give back to others in less fortunate circumstances.
Maya Moore stated on her Win With Justice website:
“We feel a responsibility to make the most of our platforms and our privilege by demanding that those around us — those who come to our games to support us, those who voted for us, or those in our neighborhood who have high hopes that we will bring a higher level of thinking to our criminal justice system — are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.”
Moore was brought to tears when the judge overturned Iron’s conviction. Her hard work and sacrifice paid off, and a man who was dragged down by an unfair judicial system was given freedom.
But as Moore noted, there are still steps to be taken, and there are still cases to be heard, people to be freed.
We don’t expect Moore to stop now.
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