WNBA superstar Maya Moore says she's skipping her second consecutive season to help a prisoner she believes was wrongfully convicted
Maya Moore announced that she will forgo her second consecutive WNBA season to help exonerate a prisoner who she believes was wrongfully convicted, according to reporting from The New York Times. The four-time WNBA champion also removed herself from consideration for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer. Moore sat out of WNBA play in 2019 to spend time with her family and minister. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The WNBA will be without one of its biggest stars for the second consecutive season. Four-time WNBA champion and women's basketball superstar Maya Moore will sit out of the 2020 WNBA season to help free a prisoner who she believes was wrongfully convicted of burglary and assault, according to reporting from The New York Times. At 16 years old, Jonathan Irons was accused of burglarizing a home in the suburbs of St. Louis and assaulting the homeowner with a gun. He was subsequently convicted by an all-white jury a
nd sentenced to 50 years in prison — all based on eyewitness testimony absent of corroborating witnesses, fingerprints, footprints, DNA, or blood evidence, according to Irons' attorneys. Moore met Irons when she visited the Jefferson City Correctional Center in her Missouri hometown back in 2017. A black woman with a deep commitment to criminal justice, Moore was immediately drawn to Irons and his story. She has advocated for Irons' appeal ever since, helping to pay for his defense team and regularly showing up at court in-person to show her support, per The Times. "Basketball has not been foremost in my mind," Moore told The Times. "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. And I've been able to be there for Jonathan."
In addition to missing the WNBA season, Moore has removed herself from consideration for the USA Basketball Women's National Team that will compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer. Both the national team and the Minnesota Lynx — her WNBA club — will undoubtedly feel her absence. The six-time WNBA All-Star has averaged 18.4 points per game over her eight seasons in the league, leading the Lynx to championships in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. Additionally, Moore poured in 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds to help the US to back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. Whether the small forward returns to the hardwood in a professional capacity remains to be seen. Moore has been one of the biggest names in women's basketball since winning back-to-back national championships with the UConn Huskies in 2009 and 2010 and has heretofore resisted labeling her hiatus as retirement. "I don't feel like this is the right time for me to retire," she told The Times. "Retirement is something that is a big deal, and there is a right way to do it well, and this is not the time for me."
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UConn Huskies pay tribute to the late Gigi Bryant during an emotional matchup against the US Women's National Team
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, died in a helicopter crash...NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, Sunday. Gigi, dubbed "Mambacita," shared her father's love for the game and intended to one day follow in his footsteps by playing professional basketball in the WNBA. According to the Black Mamba himself, Gigi was "hellbent" on playing college ball for Geno Auriemma's UConn Huskies. Prior to their highly-anticipated Monday-night matchup against the US Women's National Team, the Huskies honored the young Bryant with a No. 2 jersey and floral arrangement perched on the UConn bench. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, died in a helicopter crash along with seven others in Calabasas, California, Sunday. Dubbed "Mambacita" after her father's nickname "Black Mamba," Gigi spent much of her childhood watching her father dominate the NBA and aspired to follow in his footsteps. She wanted to play in the WNBA someday, but she was "hellbent" on playing college ball for Geno Auriemma's UConn Huskies first, according to her dad. Just one day after the Bryants' fatal accident, the Huskies hosted the US Women's National Team for a scrimmage as part of its pre-Olympics tour. And prior to tipoff, UConn honored Gigi with by draping a No. 2 jersey — the number she wore with her AAU team — over the back of its bench and placing a bouquet of flowers on the seat. Mambacita is forever a Husky 💙 pic.twitter.com/3wdAbdK0Ye — UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) January 27, 2020 It was an emotional night for many of the players and staff on hand. Kobe was an outspoken supporter of the women's game and the WNBA and had a personal relationship with many of the stars who laced up for Team USA. Diana Taurasi — the all-time WNBA leading scorer whom Bryant regularly called the greatest of all time and dubbed the "White Mamba" — broke down in front of the camera's while trying to reflect on the Black Mamba's legacy. "I don't know if I can do this," Taurasi began while holding back tears. "He meant so much to a city. That fighting spirit that he had, I think everyone had that in them and he found a way to make it okay for everyone to be that way." "I was a huge fan growing up," the Los Angeles native added. "Still am." White Mamba remembers Black Mamba. ♥️📽️: @ESPN pic.twitter.com/HMe7NNgiz1 — Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) January 28, 2020 After the game, Team USA forward Nneka Ogwumike said that she hoped both teams did the Bryants proud with their performance. "I would just hope that we did exactly what he would want us to do," she told ESPN. "Exactly what Gigi would want to watch." After trailing for stretches of the game, Team USA pulled away from the Huskies for the 79-64 victory. Read more: Photos of Kobe and Gigi Bryant show how the father-daughter duo shared a deep love for the game of basketball Kobe Bryant started using helicopters as a player as a way to maintain his body and spend more time with his family Time will honor the late Kobe Bryant with a cover featuring his final bow Remembering the highlights of Kobe Bryant's illustrious career after his tragic death Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 5 things about the NFL that football fans may not know