Good news is hard to come by these days, so here’s something you have to see: Maya Moore, a star Minnesota Lynx player in the WNBA, saw Jonathan Irons leave prison on July 1 after she left basketball to support his case. She fell to the ground when she saw him walking out of a prison in Missouri, before going to hug the man whom she paused her career to help. Moore first met Irons through prison ministry in 2007, and left basketball in early 2019 to focus on Irons’s appeal to vacate the burglary and assault convictions that had imprisoned the 40-year-old since he was 18. He had been tried as an adult at age 16 on circumstantial evidence, and this March, a judge vacated Irons’s convictions, based largely on a fingerprint report that hadn’t been given to the defense and did not show Irons’s fingerprints at the crime scene. Irons maintained his innocence since the 1998 case, and would not have been eligible for parole until he was around 60.
Moore has spoken out about her friendship with Irons since 2016, after protests against police brutality spurred by the shooting of Michael Brown swept the nation. She and the Lynx became vocal supporters of Black Lives Matter, some of the first athletes to publicly align themselves with the movement. When Moore asked Irons how it felt to finally leave prison, he said, “Life. I feel like I can live life now, man. I’m free, I’m blessed. I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence.” These are tears of joy, we promise.