WNBA Player Maya Moore Reveals She Married Wrongfully Convicted Man She Helped Free from Prison
Maya Moore is a married woman!
During an appearance on Good Morning America Wednesday, the WNBA star revealed that she and Jonathan Irons — the man she helped exonerate from a wrongful conviction — have tied the knot.
"We wanted to announce today that were are super excited to continue the work that we’ve been doing together, but doing it as a married couple. We got married a couple months ago and we’re excited to just continue this new chapter of life together," Moore, 31, announced.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist shocked the sports world in 2019 when she put her career with the Minnesota Lynx on hold in order to focus, in part, on securing the release of Irons, who at the time was serving a 50-year sentence for burglary and assault at the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri.
He served over two decades of the sentence before his conviction was overturned this past March, and Irons, 40, officially became a free man in July.
The couple told GMA that their romance blossomed out of the friendship they created when Moore's family introduced them through a prison ministry program when she was 18 years old.
"I met Jonathon when I was 18. I was about to be a freshman at [the University of Connecticut] and my godparents and my great uncle introduced me to him and his story, his case. He had been wrongfully convicted, he had been in prison over a decade at that point, so I was just interested in learning," Moore explained.
"I got to know him and over the last 13 years we have just developed a friendship and [then] entered this huge battle to get him home and over time it was pretty clear what the Lord was doing in our hearts. Now we’re sitting here today, starting a whole new chapter together."
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Although the couple knew they had strong feelings for one another, Irons said that he wanted to "protect" Moore from feeling "trapped" in a relationship with him while he was still serving time.
"A few years ago, while we were on a visit in prison ... we acknowledged, both of us, that we had really strong feelings for each other. So much so that I wanted to marry her," Irons recalled. "But at the same time, protect her, because being in a relationship with a man in prison is extremely difficult and painful. I didn’t want her to feel trapped."
Irons ended up proposing that day, but told Moore: "Don’t answer that question yet."
"I said, 'I just want you to wait until I’m home,' because I didn’t know if I'd be home and 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," he explained.
Irons then proposed a second time when he was finally released from prison in July.
"When I got out we were in the hotel room, we had some friends in the room, it was winding down and we were extremely tired, but we were still gassed up on excitement," Irons said. "It was just me and her in the room and I got down on my knees and I looked up at her and she kind of knew what was going on and I said, 'Will you marry me,' she said, 'Yes.' "
The couple added that they have been tight-lipped about the happy news so as to not distract from their current Get Out the Vote campaign, encouraging others to take a stand for justice.
When Irons was 16 years old, he was arrested for the nonfatal shooting of a white homeowner named Stanley Stotler during a burglary, despite the fact that no DNA, fingerprints, footprints, or any physical evidence ever linked him to the crime.
Stotler was shot twice during the incident, and Irons has long maintained that he was not there and was misidentified, according to The New York Times.
He was convicted by an all-white jury on burglary and assault charges in 1998, though the judge who later vacated his conviction said there was a series of problems with how the case was handled, the Times reported. Among those issues was the fact that a fingerprint report revealing a print that did not belong to Irons or Stotler was never given to Irons’ defense team.
Moore helped bring attention and awareness to Irons’ case after meeting him through the prison ministry program in 2007, and she also helped fund the hiring of defense attorney Kent Gipson, the Times reported.