'Relief and gratitude': Maya Moore describes Jonathan Irons' freedom

Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Basketball

Anyone who watched the video could see the emotion. A day later Maya Moore -- relieved, exhausted, exhilarated -- remembers racing to the prison where Jonathan Irons was about to emerge, watching him walk through the doors that had kept him, being overcome.

"Well, apparently, I couldn't keep standing," Moore joked Thursday in a national video conference call. "I fell to my knees. It felt so surreal to watch him walking on the other side of those doors."

It was like winning a championship, said Moore, who should know. The former NCAA and Olympic champion helped lead the Lynx to four WNBA titles.

And now, for Moore, another.

All the work she, her family and her legal team did trying to get Irons' conviction on robbery and assault overturned, all the sacrifice made by Moore, who stepped away from her WNBA career more than a year ago, came to fruition when the 40-year-old Irons -- convicted at age 18 -- walked through the doors of the Jefferson City (Mo.) Correction Facility.

"Just relief and gratitude, when I saw him walking out," she said. "In this journey there is so much to my life that I just do privately. ... I don't really make it a huge priority to tell every single thing that I do every single day about my life. But one of the things I have wanted to share is the work in the criminal justice reform space, sharing and talking about Jonathan's life."


Moore will continue to fight for prosecutorial reform. She and Irons intend to tell his story, hoping to spur others to join the cause for reform of a criminal justice system that, she said, dehumanizes people of color.

But not right away. This was another huge win in Moore's life. Her biggest, easily. But it exacted a toll.

"It's the next-day exhaustion of, we just went to the mountaintop, and now our bodies are exhausted. Our hearts and minds are exhausted," she said. "We're walking around like zombies today. In a good way."

So, first, recovery. Any talk of the long-term future, including basketball, can wait.


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