Man central to Maya Moore's WNBA hiatus freed after 23 years in prison
Tim Clayton - Corbis / Corbis Sport / Getty

Twenty-three years after he was convicted for a burglary in which he steadfastly denied being involved, Jonathan Irons walked out of Missouri's Jefferson City Correctional Center a free man on Wednesday, thanks in large part to former WNBA MVP Maya Moore.

Moore, a six-time All-Star and four-time champion with the Minnesota Lynx from 2011-18, first met Irons in 2007, and the two remained in close contact, according to The New York Times' Kurt Streeter.

Moore announced last year that she would sit out the entire 2019 WNBA season to focus on family and "ministry dreams." In January, the 31-year-old extended her hiatus through 2020, this time emphasizing social justice reform - and Irons' case specifically.

Irons was charged with burglary and assault when he was 16. He was tried and convicted as an adult at age 18 and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Issues with the original investigation, including the withholding of key evidence from Irons' defense team, cast doubt on the case, and Missouri judge Daniel Green ruled in March to vacate the 40-year-old's conviction.

Moore used her influence to raise awareness for Irons' case and also helped fund the legal team for his appeal, Streeter notes.

"She saved my life," Irons said in March. "I would not have this chance if not for her and her wonderful family. She saved my life and I cannot say it better than that."

Man central to Maya Moore's WNBA hiatus freed after 23 years in prison
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