Maya Moore worked intensely to help free Jonathan Irons, a wrongfully incarcerated man who she came to know about a decade ago through her family’s prison ministry work in Missouri. Yesterday the WNBA star announced the pair’s marriage, which took place shortly after Irons’ release two months back. “Grateful to announce this new chapter of life! What a miracle,” she shared on an Instagram post.
Moore opted out of the 2019 and 2020 WNBA seasons to focus on activism on Irons’ behalf. They’d developed a friendship in the decade since they were first introduced. It wasn’t until July 2 of this year, however, that Irons’ conviction was vacated. Two months ago, after 23 years in prison, he was released.
Moore was committed to freeing a man she believed to be innocent; his conviction was riddled with problems. Irons was 16 in 1998 when implicated in a St. Louis burglary, which included the shooting of a man. While identified by the homeowner, Irons maintained his innocence. Additionally, there was no forensic evidence confirming his involvement. A supposed confession was made, according to one officer, but there was no recording; Irons has said that confession never happened. Later, fingerprints of another person, belonging not to Irons or the homeowner, found on the scene were not submitted as evidence. Still, Irons was convicted—as an adult—and given a sentence of 50 years.
Irons told Good Morning America that the friendship came well before the romance: “I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her because being in a relationship with a man in prison, it’s extremely difficult and painful. And I didn’t want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to feel open and have the ability any time if this is too much for you, go and find somebody. Live your life. Because this is hard.”