Maya Moore is arguably the best women’s basketball player in the world. She is a multi-time WNBA champion, Euroleague champion, Olympic champion, and world champion. She’s won just about every single individual award as well.
But earlier this year she said she was going to take this season off because she wanted to prioritize family and ministry.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Moore opened up about what she is specifically focused on during her time away from the court.
“There are seasons of life when you run harder after certain things than others,” Moore told NBC News. “And so, I felt like the season was coming for me where I needed to run harder after criminal justice reform.”
Moore’s interest in criminal justice reform was sparked back in 2007 when she was visiting her godparents in her hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri.
Her godparents took her to a prison to meet inmate Jonathan Irons. Moore’s godparents became interested in Irons’ story when they heard the details of his incarceration.
Irons was arrested at 16 and charged with a non-fatal shooting near St. Louis. He was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison. But Irons has always maintained his innocence.
That visit had a profound impact on Moore, and while she was winning national titled at the University of Connecticut and becoming one of the most legendary players on the collegiate and professional levels she kept in touch with Irons.
Their friendship grew and she knew that using her platform to help fight for the rights of a man she believed to be innocent was the right thing to do.
“Over ten thousand people may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. Every year. And I know one of them,” Moore said. “And so this one person now becomes an example of a bigger problem for me.”
Moore has not set a timetable on when or if she will return to playing basketball. She loves the game and misses it greatly. But she is strong in her faith and believes she will be called to whatever is next. In the meantime, giving a voice to the voiceless is what she is meant to do.
“It’s one of the best feelings of giving somebody a voice. Just one person. But then I realized, when I give Jonathan a voice, so many other people get a voice.”
(Photo: John Lamparski/WireImage)