Maya Moore stepped down from the WNBA and dedicated her life to advocating for the release of a wrongly convicted man, Johnathan Irons.
Irons spent 22 years in the Jefferson City Correctional Center but was a free man on Wednesday.
“In that moment I just–I really felt like I could rest,” 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 only 16-years-old when he was tried and convicted by an all-white jury for the burglary and shooting of 38-year-old Standly Stotler. Irons maintained his innocence during his entire stint and insisted that he was misidentified on the lineup.
A judge later decided that his case was mishandled and a simple finger print allowed him to walk free over two decades later. “I’m absolutely elated and thankful just to be here in this moment right now,” Irons said upon his release.
“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.
Irons is now a 40-year-old man and says he doesn’t feel any resentment towards the now-deceased man who wrongly pointed him out and robbed him of his entire childhood and life.
“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. There’s so much greater coming on the horizon and I see it,” Irons also expressed.
Maya Moore doesn’t know if she’s going to take a trip down this old town road again, but she’s fulfilled and living in the moment. “For the first time in my life I’m trying to live in the moment,” she said.