WNBA star Maya Moore stepped away from the league and dedicated her time to fighting for the release of wrongfully convicted Johnathan Irons– a Black man who spent 22 years at the Jefferson City Correctional Center but walked out a free man on Wednesday.
She stated, “In that moment I just–I really felt like I could rest,” Maya Moore told Robin Roberts of Good Morning America. “I mean I’ve been standing and we’ve been standing for so long–it was an unplanned moment where I just felt relief…it was kind of a worshipful moment just dropping to my knees and being so thankful that we made it,” she added.
Irons was tried and convicted by an all-white jury for burglary and shooting at the home of 38-year-old Standly Stotler. He was only 16. Irons maintained his innocence, while incarcerated and insisted he was wrongly identified in a lineup.
It was determined by a judge that the case was mishandled–including a fingerprint that would’ve proved Irons’ innocence.
Upon his release, he stated, “I’m absolutely elated and thankful just to be here in this moment right now The four-time WNBA champion stepped away from the league at the height of her career to focus on getting Irons’ conviction overturned.
“When I stepped away two springs ago, I just really wanted to shift my priorities to be able to be more available and present to show up for things that I felt were mattering more than being a professional athlete,” Maya Moore also stated.
Now 40, he doesn’t feel resentment towards the man who wrongly identified him and said that the deceased is a “victim” also. He also expressed interest in helping others that have a similar story.
“I want to be able to reach back and help other people,” Irons said. “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,” he also expressed. “There’s so much greater coming on the horizon and I see it,” Irons also expressed.
Maya Moore isn’t sure if she’ll be returning to the court anytime soon. But she’s happy with her life right now.
“For the first time in my life I’m trying to live in the moment.”
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