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Posted under: News Social Justice

WNBA Star Maya Moore Got Married To The Man She Helped Free From Prison Following 13-Year Friendship

Jonathan Irons spent 23 years in prison due to a wrongful conviction and was freed two months ago.

WNBA star Maya Moore announced that she and Jonathan Irons, the formerly incarcerated man whose freedom she fought for, have gotten married after a 13-year friendship, the couple revealed in a Good Morning America interview.

As Blavity previously reported, Moore was instrumental in fighting for Irons' release from prison after he served more than 23 years on a wrongful conviction.

Irons was released from prison on July 1, and Moore said he proposed that same day. 

"We wanted to announce today that we are super excited to continue the work that we are doing together, but doing it as a married couple. We got married a couple months ago and we're excited to just continue this new chapter of life together," Moore told Good Morning America host Robin Roberts. 

"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 and now we're sitting here today, starting a whole new chapter together," she added.

After winning four titles and two gold medals during her eight-year career, Moore made waves over the last two years when she decided to leave the game behind and focus on getting Irons out of prison.

According to ESPN, Moore was the league MVP in 2014, WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2011, a six-time All-Star and a five-time All-WNBA first-team honoree. She also won two national championships as a college player at UConn.

The two met when Moore was 18 years old working in a prison ministry program. They built a deep friendship over their shared religious beliefs and always stayed in contact while Irons was at Jefferson City Correctional Center.

Irons told Roberts that he had always loved Moore and wanted to propose to her years ago but did not want her to feel burdened by being tied to someone in prison. 

"I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her because being in a relationship with a man in prison, it's extremely difficult and painful. And I didn't want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to feel open and have the ability any time if this is too much for you, go and find somebody. Live your life. Because this is hard," he said.

But when he was finally released from prison in July, he immediately knew he had to pop the question and make their relationship official. 

"When I got out we were in the hotel room we had some friends in the room, it was winding down and we were extremely tired, but we were still gassed up on excitement. 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,'" he added.

Irons, who is now 40, was tried and convicted as an adult by an all-white jury when he was 16 years old, The New York Times reported. Police alleged that he participated in a robbery and shooting but Irons said he was unfairly picked out of a line-up.

According to Good Morning America, a judge in Missouri threw out his conviction when it was revealed that prosecutors and police had made a number of mistakes in his case and had not given Irons' lawyers access to fingerprints which would have exonerated him. 

In their interview with Roberts, the couple said they plan to keep fighting for people who have been wrongfully incarcerated and will kickstart other initiatives around voting. 

"Hopefully I can continue to do and whatever else, you know, that we can contribute to the fight because it's a big fight and the more hands involved makes the work easier. So we're doing our part," Irons said. 

Roberts also noted during the interview that her production company is making a documentary about the couple's journey over the past few years. 

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