There are athletes who talk the talk about social justice, and using their position to help others, but stand silent when it comes time to actually DO something.
Maya Moore? Yeah, she’s 180 degrees from that.
For those not familiar with her, Maya Moore is one of the best women’s basketball players of all time, and until 2019 a longtime star in the WNBA.
But she took the 2019 season off for a very unusual reason: She wanted to help a Missouri man named Jonathan Irons get his conviction and 50-year prison sentence overturned.
And it worked: Irons walked out of a correctional facility a free man on July 1.
After serving 22 years for a crime he did not commit, the now-40-year-old Irons was freed thanks to legal work from great attorneys, and the help of Moore, who worked tirelessly on the case and brought a ton of media attention to it.
In 1998 police said Irons was the perpetrator in a burglary and shooting at the home of Stanley Stotler, then 38, a white homeowner who lived alone in O’Fallon, a roughly 45-minute drive from downtown St. Louis. Both Stotler and his assailant were armed, and Stotler was shot twice.
Irons has insisted that he was not there and had been misidentified.
For years Moore, who met Irons in 2007 on a prison ministry visit while she was a star at UConn,and they formed a strong bond over the years.
In early 2019, Moore stunned the sports world by announcing she would take a timeout from basketball, in part so she could devote more time and energy to helping Irons mount what they thought would be his final appeal. She used her fame to help raise money for Irons to hire a top attorney, named Kent Gipson.
And it worked. Irons is a free man today, in part because a famous athlete took the time to help.
I feel like I can live life now,” Irons said. “I’m free, I’m blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence.” He added: “I thank everybody who supported me — Maya and her family.”
As always with these stories, I had mixed feelings at first: Yes, it’s amazing and wonderful that Moore worked so hard to help an innocent man who was treated so badly by our justice system.
But it’s also distressing every time one of these cases comes to light, because it reminds that our criminal justice system is so flawed, and that thousands of innocent people, a majority of them people of color, are in prison for crimes they did not commit.
Still, it’s a great day when an athlete uses their fame for such good. Maya Moore is my new favorite women’s basketball player. Below, a great video of Moore greeting Irons when he was released from prison.
**Next up today, I love Jon Stewart and appreciate it every time he makes TV appearances, like this one he did on his old show, “The Daily Show.” The current host, Trevor Noah, is doing a phenomenal job, which Stewart acknowledges, and the two comedians have a very nice, short chat about the current awful state of the nation.
I miss Jon Stewart. He’s got a new movie out called “Irreversible,” and it looks pretty funny.
**And finally today, I thought this was pretty funny, about how hard it is to handle multiple babies at once.
Years ago, when my hilarious and strange cousin Rob had twins, we went to Rob’s parents house to hang out by their pool for the day.
The twins were maybe 2 at the time, and there was a moment where both of them were trying to crawl into the water and Rob was pushing them back onto the deck, while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with us. It was a remarkable job of multi-tasking, and it’s where I first learned that 80 percent of parenting multiple toddlers is playing defense.
Check out this father doing my cousin one better, trying to keep all three of his rugrats away from the fridge. Just a fantastic job.