With a big assist from WNBA star Maya Moore, a Missouri man was released from prison Wednesday with Moore on hand to welcome him as he walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Moore, who is from Jefferson City, clapped as Jonathan Irons emerged from the prison and joined in a group hug of Irons. The Minnesota Lynx star has been active in working for Irons’s release, arguing along with others that he had been falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges.
“Thank God it’s over,” Moore said in an Instagram video, adding a caption with the word “FREEDOM.”
Irons, 40, was serving a 50-year prison sentence after the nonfatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area when Irons was 16. In March, his convictions 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.
“I feel like I can live life now,” Irons said Wednesday in Moore’s video. “I’m free, I’m blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence. I thank everybody who supported me – Maya and her family.”
Moore, a four-time WNBA champion who played in college at UConn, met Irons through a prison ministry program, according to The New York Times. Moore, 31, skipped last season and planned to skip this season to help Irons.
“I’m in a really good place right now with my life, and I don’t want to change anything. Basketball has not been foremost in my mind,” she told the Times in January. “I’ve been able to rest, and connect with people around me, actually be in their presence after all of these years on the road.”
Although his convictions were thrown out in March, Moore maintained she would not play this season or in the Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for this summer.
“‘My decision to take another year was bigger than this case,” she told the Associated Press at the time. “But obviously this case was in the forefront of my mind. I’m looking forward when this is done to finally getting some rest and time with my family.”