Maya Moore has made it her mission to see Jonathan Irons free from jail. On Wednesday, she finally saw that come true as he was released from Missouri’s Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Moore put her WNBA career on hold in 2019 to assist Irons with overturning his conviction for burglary and assault with a weapon. Once Irons was freed, Moore was one of the first people outside of the prison to greet him. She clapped as Irons approached a group of people waiting for his release. She then dropped to her knees at one point before joining a group hug around Irons.
“I feel like I can live life now,” Irons said on the video, thanking Moore and her family. “I’m free, I’m blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence.”
Maya Moore is from Jefferson City. She met Irons before her freshman year at UConn after seeing Reggie Williams, her godfather, reviewing some of the legal documents regarding Irons’ case.
Irons, who is now 40, served 22 years of a 50-year sentence that started in 1998 after being convicted of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon. The man testified that Irons was the individual who assaulted him, although there is no witnesses, no fingerprints, no DNA, nothing that was not circumstantial, outside of the victim claiming it was Irons. Irons, who is Black, was just 16 at the time, was tried as an adult. An all-white jury found him guilty.
Irons discussed with ESPN what he is going to do with his newfound freedom, saying “I want to rest, and get my legs up under me and be able to stand,” he said. “There’s a lot to adjust to out here, and I’m gonna take it slow. And I’m surrounded by people I know who love me and have my best interests in mind, and so I’m gonna listen to them, study and learn all I can. And when I get the time and the opportunity and the resources and the provision, I want to be able to reach back and help other people. I want to advocate for people who are less fortunate. I want to help people with their cases. I want to speak to positive change and be a part of the rebuilding process from where we’re at right now, because there’s so much greater coming on the horizon, and I see it — even in the darkness, I was able to see it — and I know we’re going. We shouldn’t give up; we should keep going.”
It is unclear if Moore plans to return to the WNBA whenever the season resumes but its clear she’s got an even bigger purpose now.