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WNBA star Maya Moore marries man she helped free from wrongful conviction

WNBA star Maya Moore marries man she helped free from wrongful conviction
Posted at 1:06 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 13:06:29-04

WNBA star Maya Moore announced Wednesday that she had married the love of her life — a man that, in part, through her advocacy, had been freed from prison after his wrongful conviction was overturned earlier this year.

During an appearance on Good Morning America Wednesday, the Minnesota Lynx small forward announced she had married Jonathan Irons earlier this year.

"We wanted to announce today that we are super excited to continue the work that we are doing together, but doing it as a married couple," Moore said. "We got married a couple months ago and we're excited to just continue this new chapter of life together."

Irons was arrested in 1998 and charged with the burglary and shooting of a suburban St. Louis home. Irons, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

According to SB Nation, the prosecution's case hinged on the testimony of the homeowner, Stanley Stotler. Stotler identified Irons as the man who had broken into his home, but Irons denied he was at the scene at the time. Police also alleged that Irons committed to the crime, which Irons denies.

Moore first met Irons in 2007 through a prison ministry program when she was 18 years old. At the time, she was beginning her basketball career at UConn, where she would go on to win back-to-back NCAA titles.

Moore and Irons developed a friendship and stayed in touch throughout the years. On GMA Wednesday, Irons said that as their relationship evolved, they began to develop romantic feelings for each other.

"I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her because being in a relationship with a man in prison, it's extremely difficult and painful," Irons told GMA. "And I didn't want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to feel open and have the ability any time if this is too much for you, go and find somebody. Live your life. Because this is hard."

In 2019, Moore stunned the WNBA when she announced that she would be taking a break from basketball to focus on activism within the criminal justice system. She also chose to sit out the 2020 WNBA season.

During her hiatus, Moore took an active role in seeking justice for Irons. Moore and Irons' legal team argued that a key fingerprint report that would have ruled Irons out as a suspect in the 1998 shooting had not been submitted as evidence or turned over to the defense.

A Missouri judge overturned Irons' conviction in March. On July 2, the judge vacated the conviction, officially clearing Irons' name.

Irons said he proposed to Moore the day he was released from prison.

"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.'"

Good Morning America reports that the couple's marriage took place a few months ago in front of socially-distanced family and friends.

"Over the last 13 years we have just developed a friendship and just entered into this huge battle to get him home and just over time it was pretty clear what the Lord was doing in our hearts and now we're sitting here today, starting a whole new chapter together," Moore said.

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