UConn legend Maya Moore announced Wednesday that she has married Jonathan Irons, whose conviction she helped overturn amid a two-year hiatus from her playing career.
“We got married a couple months ago,” Moore said, sitting alongside Irons to announce the news on Good Morning America. “We’re excited to just continue this new chapter of life together.”
Irons, who, like Moore, is from Jefferson City, Mo., spent the last 22 years in prison before Moore made the shocking decision to step away from basketball and join the fight for broader criminal justice reform. Her efforts were centered around overturning Irons' conviction.
Irons was serving a 50-year prison sentence for burglary and assault charges before his case was thrown out in March. Though Irons has always maintained his innocence, it was recently revealed that the prosecution did not turn over a report to Irons' defense attorney detailing how a fingerprint found at the scene of the alleged assault was not Irons', per an ESPN.com report.
Prosecutors in St. Charles County decided against a retrial, allowing Irons to walk free on July 1.
Moore met Irons through her godparents right before starting her freshman year at UConn and maintained a friendship with him, even as basketball took her all over the country and the world. A few years ago, Irons said Wednesday, the two made it clear that they had deep feelings for each other. Irons asked the WNBA superstar to marry him, but told her not to answer the question until he was not longer incarcerated.
“Being in a relationship with a man in prison is extremely difficult and painful," Irons said. "She’s such an amazing, beautiful person. I could never trap her and not let her fulfill her dreams of being a wife and being a mother one day.”
Soon after Irons was released, he popped the question again, and Moore said yes.
“Over time, it was pretty clear what the Lord was doing in our hearts," Moore added. "And now we’re sitting here today starting a whole new chapter together.”
At the crux of Moore and Irons’ new life together is a joint push for social change, and particularly for criminal justice and prosecutorial reform to alleviate harsher outcomes for people of color. Both are involved in a get-out-the-vote campaign and are seeking to help others who feel they’ve been wrongfully convicted.
“Whatever else [Moore’s campaign] Win with Justice can contribute to the fight, it’s a big fight, and the more hands involved makes the work easier," Irons said, "so we’re doing our part.”
Moore, a four-time WNBA champion with the Minnesota Lynx, two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time champion at UConn, added that she has yet to make a decision on if she’ll return to the court, but plans to do so in the spring.
“I’m still trying to be so present in this second year away from the game. I’m hoping sometime in the spring we’ll be able to have a next step moving forward,” Moore said. "But right now I’m trying to really just breathe from this long, long battle and enjoy and rest and just being in the moment. There’s a lot of unknowns for a lot of us right now, so I’m still in that camp.
A documentary created by ESPN Films and Robin Roberts' production company will capture Moore’s and Irons' story, Roberts announced on the show.
Alexa Philippou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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