Maya Moore won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx, but she has not earned a ring since 2017. Moore took a sabbatical from the sport to advocate for a Missouri man she believed was wrongfully imprisoned, and her work resulted in his overturned conviction in March and his release from prison earlier this week.
Although she paused her career, Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes Moore remains worthy of the distinction as champion.
Maya is a champion. https://t.co/9LIp2CJ3qG— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) July 2, 2020
Jonathan Irons, a 40-year-old Black man, was sentenced to 50 years in prison after being convicted of breaking into a home outside of St. Louis and twice shooting a homeowner. Irons was 16 at the time the alleged crime took place, but he was tried and convicted as an adult. There were no corroborating witnesses, and a judge ruled on March 9 that prosecutors withheld fingerprint evidence which failed to implicate Irons.
After serving nearly a quarter-century, Irons was released Wednesday.
Moore met Irons in 2007, just before she became a star at UConn. The one-time WNBA MVP and WNBA Finals MVP announced in 2019 that she was taking a sabbatical from the league in order to pursue her "ministry dreams" and spend time with family, and Moore announced earlier this year her sabbatical would continue in order to push for criminal justice reform and Irons' release.
Her decision was largely unprecedented. Moore turned 31 last month, and Five Thirty-Eight's Chris Herring wrote then that no professional athlete as successful as Moore had willingly walked away from their career during their peak years.
"Champion" might be an understatement.