Maya Moore ESPN 30 for 30
Breakaway is about Maya Moore and her fight to get Jonathan Irons out of prison.
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ESPN unveiled it’s latest 30 for 30 on Tuesday, a documentary on Maya Moore and her fight to get Jonathan Irons, a man wrongfully convicted, out of prison. She sat out the 2019 and 2020 WNBA seasons to make it happen.
This documentary shone a light on Moore and Irons' personal relationship as they are now husband and wife. They married on July 10, 2020, just days after Jonathan was released from prison on July 1st, 2020.
The documentary began with Maya Moore singing and playing on her guitar before showing Jonathan Irons in the frame. It’s been a long journey for both of them and it is very clear to the viewer the love they have for each other.
To briefly summarize, Jonathan Irons was put in prison in 1997 for burglary, illegally entering someone’s home, and for illegal use of a weapon. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The documentary shows that Maya Moore had been involved in this case before she went to college at the University of Connecticut.
She knew of Jonathan Irons from her godfather Reggie Williams and godmother Cherilyn Williams who had gone to see him in prison many times. Williams particularly took a strong interest in this case because he felt that the court had put an innocent man behind bars and Jonathan Irons was not responsible for the crime.
Her godfather talked about Moore and her accomplishments while he was in prison and Moore was in college. So Jonathan knew of Moore for a long time. She started visiting the prison during her summer visits back home in college and they slowly formed a friendship.
In 2016, it all changed for Moore. She, along with her Minnesota Lynx teammates, stood up for Philando Castile and Alton Sterling for being shot by police officers as well as the Dallas Police Department after five police officers were shot at a police brutality protest. She started paying closer attention and learning about the criminal/social justice system.
Moore comes from a family of teachers. Her mother Kathyrn raised Maya as a single mother and described her as having “high energy” in anything she does. So, it was important for Maya to be aware of her ability to be a good role model in whatever she did.
At the end of the 2018 WNBA season, reporters asked Maya Moore what was next for her in the off-season, to which she simply replied “I’m just going to rest for a bit”.
In the 2018 WNBA off-season, Moore started to focus her attention on the case. She got in touch with attorneys Kent Gipson and associate attorney Taylor Rickhard who took the case.
They filed a writ of habeas corpus in December 2018. This is a legal filing to request for the court to assess whether an imprisonment or detention is lawful.
Moore announced she was taking a sabbatical in 2019 to focus on this case. In October 2019, Jonathan Irons was able to get in front of a judge and declare his innocence. A few months later, on March 9th, 2020, a judge overruled Irons convictions and said that they were “very weak and circumstantial at best.”
The Missouri’s Attorney General’s office appealed the hearing. On July 1, 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected a final appeal and Jonathan Irons was finally released. In the documentary, we see Moore driving to the prison to pick him up and when he leaves the prison, she drops to her knees and is overwhelmed with joy. He is finally free.
During 2019 and 2020, when Moore was dedicated to trying to get Irons out of jail, he had asked Maya to marry him. Maya was ecstatic but he told her he wanted her answer when he was free. A small portion of their wedding was shown in the documentary, with both Irons and Moore beaming.
Moore’s mother said Maya is very social and she loves helping out others and in this case, it is very striking when she and Jonathan Irons talk. In a notable moment, Irons and Moore are getting interviewed on Good Morning America, and after they are done with the interview, he looks around the conference room and asks Maya what the purpose of this room is. She calmly responds to him and lets him know that this room is a conference room and this is where people come to gather. He nods his head. It’s evident how much she loves to help him get reacclimated back to normal life after he was put in prison at the age of 17 and was released 23 years later at the age of 40.
The documentary ends with a picnic that has Maya’s mother, Jonathan, Maya, Maya’s godfather Reggie and godmother Cherilyn Williams. All of them are singing because they are just grateful to be all together.
It’s not clear whether Maya Moore intends on returning back to the WNBA, but the documentary shows that she is happy and content. Maya Moore also recently won the ESPN Arthur Ashe Award and she and Jonathan are dedicated to advocating for others as well.