The couple met through a prison ministry program when Moore was 18 years old and wed shortly after his release in July.
Basketball star-turned-activist Maya Moore revealed on Wednesday that she has married Jonathan Irons, the man she helped free from prison. The newlyweds broke the news during an appearance on Good Morning America where they shared details of their unique love story. "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," said Moore. "We got married a couple [of] months ago and we're excited to just continue this new chapter of life together."
According to The New York Times, Irons walked out of a Missouri prison on July 1, 2020, over 20 years after he was wrongfully convicted on charges of burglary and assault. Moore came into his life through a prison ministry program when she was 18 years old, shortly before her freshman year at the University of Connecticut, where she became one of the most acclaimed women's basketball players in collegiate history. Explaining that their romantic feelings progressed gradually over time, Moore said: "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."
Speaking of her husband, the 31-year-old said that she loves his faith in God and his ability to rise above the chaos of his surroundings the most. Irons revealed that although he initially told Moore he wanted to be close and remain friends, he revealed his love for her while still at Jefferson City Correctional Center. However, despite admitting to her that he wanted her to marry him, he asked her not to give him an answer at the time.
"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. "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.'"
Irons was just 16 years old when he was tried and convicted as an adult by an all-White jury for the burglary and shooting at the home of 38-year-old Stanley Stotler. Irons, who pleaded not guilty, maintained his innocence while he was in prison, insisting that he was not at the scene of the crime and that he had been misidentified. A Missouri judge finally overturned his conviction in March after years of fighting and Irons now hopes to help others who have been wrongfully convicted that don't have the "same resources or the blessings that I have been blessed with."
"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," he said. The newlyweds are also currently focused on spreading the word about local elections with the aim of making a real impact in their communities. "We're basically trying to just educate the public—get them engaged in the voting process and just being more involved in what's going on with our country and our government and local jurisdictions, prosecuting offices," said Irons, adding that they want people "to be aware and pay attention because if you don't pay attention, things can get out of hand and become harmful to our country."
Meanwhile, Moore—who put her basketball career on hold last year to answer what she said was a call from God—said she would have a "next step moving forward" concerning her career sometime in the spring. "I'm hoping sometime in the spring we'll be able to have a next step moving forward, but right now I am trying to really just breathe from this long, long battle and enjoy and rest," she said. "There's a lot of unknowns for a lot of us right now so I'm still in that camp."