WNBA champion Maya Moore has married Jonathan Irons, the man she fought to free after he spent years in prison due to a wrongful conviction. The couple announced their nuptials in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” Wednesday, Sept. 16.
“We wanted to announce today that we are super excited to continue the work that we’ve been doing together, but [are] 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.”
Moore said she was first introduced to Irons by her great-uncle and godparents when she was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Connecticut. He’d been imprisoned for over a decade at that time.
“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,” Moore said.
Irons said he knew he wanted to marry Moore but didn’t want her to be trapped dating a man in prison if he wasn’t released. They discussed it during a visit a few years ago.
“We both acknowledged that we had pretty strong feelings for each other,” Irons said. “I said will you marry me, but don’t answer that question yet. I just want you to wait until I’m home because in my mind I didn’t know if I’d be home and she’s such an amazing, beautiful person; I could never trap her and not let her fulfill her dreams of being a wife and being a mother one day.”
Irons, 40, was sentenced to 50 years for a burglary and shooting in Missouri in 1998 when he was only 16. Despite his continued claims he was wrongly identified in the police lineup, he was convicted by an all-white jury and spent 23 years behind bars.
Moore, 31, made headlines in February 2019 when she took a break from her WNBA career to focus fully on her activism and fight for Irons’ freedom. At the time, she was at the top of her game, having won four championships with the Minnesota Lynx.
Irons’ conviction was overturned in March and he was released on June 30. Video footage shows Moore falling to the ground in relief when Irons walked out of prison. He said he popped the question again and Moore accepted his proposal.
“When I got out, we were in the hotel room, we had some friends in the other room, it was winding down and we were extremely tired, but we were still gassed up on excitement,” Irons recalled. “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.’ “
In addition to their newly married status, the couple said they are working to encourage people to vote and brainstorming ways to help others who’ve been wrongfully convicted and have limited resources.
Moore said she is unsure whether she will return to the WNBA and is just trying to be present in the moment.
“I’m still trying to be so present in this second year away from the game,” Moore said. “Right now, I am trying to really just breathe from this long, long battle and enjoy and rest and, again, just being in the moment. There’s a lot of unknowns for a lot of us right now, so I’m still in that camp.”
“GMA” anchor Robin Roberts said her company Rock’n Robin Productions and ESPN are working on a documentary about the couple’s journey.