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    Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    Maya Moore marries man she helped free from prison

    In this March 9 file photo, Jefferson City, Mo., native and WNBA star Maya Moore, right, calls Jonathan Irons as supporters react in Jefferson City after Cole County Judge Dan Green overturned Irons' convictions in a 1997 burglary and assault case. Iron was freed from prison on July 1 and the two announced Wednesday morning they are now married. (Jeff Haldiman/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP, File)

    Maya Moore, the WNBA star who took time away from her basketball career to work on criminal justice issues, has married Jonathan Irons, a man she worked to free from a Missouri prison.

    "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," she told Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America."

    Moore, 31, said she and Irons met through a prison ministry program when she was 18.

    Irons, 40, was serving a 50-year prison sentence after the nonfatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area, an incident that occurred when Irons was 16. In March, his convictions for burglary and assault were tossed out by a judge who cited problems that included a fingerprint report that had not been made available to Irons's defense team. An appeal by the Missouri attorney general's office was unsuccessful, and the St. Charles County prosecutor's office decided not to retry the case.

    When he walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center in July, the Minnesota Lynx star was waiting for him, falling to her knees and clapping with joy. "Apparently I couldn't keep standing," Moore told reporters at the time. "It just felt so surreal to watch him walking on the other side of doors. We're just so used to go into him and leaving him there.

    "To see all the possibilities when he walked out and just excited that the world and the community is going to get to enjoy such a remarkable human being."

    A four-time WNBA champion who played in college at UConn, Moore skipped last season and is skipping this season as well as she worked to secure Irons's freedom.

    "I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her ... 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."

    He proposed when he left the correctional center.

    "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?' "

    The answer was obvious and they were married "a couple months ago," Moore said, with guests observing coronavirus protocols. Now, they're starting a life together, working on one initiative of getting out the vote in November.

    The couple also is working with Roberts's production company and ESPN Films on a documentary about their lives.

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