WNBA star Maya Moore is doubling down on her efforts to help bring awareness to the case of an incarcerated man in Missouri who she believes to be innocent. In an interview with The New York Times, the 30-year-old athlete said she would be sitting out the season and the 2020 Olympics to bring attention to the unsettling case.
This is not the first time Moore, a member of the Minnesota Lynx basketball team, is sitting out a season. Last year she also chose to remain off the court and spend time fighting for criminal justice reform and a new trial for Jonathan Irons, a man serving 50 years in prison for burglary and assault.
In the interview with The Times, Moore says she met Irons more than a decade ago on a visit to Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri. He was 16 at the time that prosecutors say he burglarized and assaulted a St. Louis homeowner with a gun. The incident resulted in the homeowner being shot in the head, and he later identified Irons as the perpetrator, though no other evidence backed up his claim. Irons, who is African American, was tried as an adult. An all-white jury found him guilty.
That was in 1997. Since then Irons and his attorney have maintained his innocence. Moore has joined their fight to bring the now 39-year-old freedom.
Though the Lynx basketball organization supports her decision, Moore’s presence will be missed on the court. Since her rookie season, NBC News reports that the 2011 rookie of the year has won four championships and brought home two Olympic gold medals, both in 2012 and 2016.