by: Frankie Esguerra
Early this year WNBA star Maya Moore stunned the league, her fans and her loved ones with the announcement of her sabbatical from professional basketball. Moore decided to sit out the 2019 WNBA season, possibly longer, to dedicate her time to helping a family friend overturn a conviction.
In 1998, Moore’s long-time friend Jonathan Irons was convicted of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 50 years in prison when he was 16-years-old. According to Moore, there was no physical evidence linking Irons to the crime, leading her to believe that his conviction by an all-white jury was the result of prosecutorial misconduct. With Moore’s support, Irons has asked a judge to reopen his case and is scheduled for a hearing on October 9th in Missouri.
About two weeks ago, Maya Moore spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus on behalf of her friend and started a petition on Change.org to spread the word about her cause in calling attention to racial injustice in America. According the Change.org Managing Director Michael Jones, “Maya’s petition has become one of the fastest-growing petitions… as thousands of people respond[ed] to her call for a fair trial for Jonathan Irons[.]” Moore also started a social action campaign called Win With Justice, which she hopes will shine light on the power held by prosecutors and their obligation to using it honestly and responsibly.
“She is light,” Irons describes Moore. “Pure light.”
Why We Like It:
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time NCAA champion and four-time WNBA champion, Moore’s shocking but admirable pivot from chasing titles to dedicating her time to the pursuit of justice for the wrongfully accused is something unthinkable for an athlete of her stature. Moore, arguably one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has not only found her voice to use her platform for good but has put forth a full-fledged effort in answering “the call” that has taking precedence over her accolade-winning basketball career. Moore chose to dedicate her time to something bigger than herself. As of late, professional athletes have been speaking with increased urgency about social issues, but few can say that they have immersed themselves as deeply in their cause as Moore. With her help, America can take strides away from our country’s history that has left people of color vulnerable to a justice system “historically operated from a racist spirit”.
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