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She Put Her Pro Ball Career on Hold for Ministry. Now a Prisoner Is Free

After NFL quarterback Drew Brees apologized for taking issue with kneeling before the U.S. flag, Moore said, “There are so many, namely black and brown bodies…who have experienced a different America than what the mainstream American flag symbolizes. … So when you hear the national anthem or you see an American flag as an African-American person who has experienced the effects of that dehumanizing existence, it’s not going to mean the same. Now, [that] doesn’t give you the right to destroy, but at the same time, we have to acknowledge that there have been inconsistencies with who we’ve been as a country.”

Will Moore Return to the Court?

After two years away from basketball, Moore hasn’t revealed her future plans. Regarding advocacy, she says, “I think one of the best ways I can continue to help is to continue to tell Jonathan’s story well.”

“It’s not a cause to me as much as it is a real person’s story,” says Moore. “I definitely see myself having purpose in this criminal justice space because, unfortunately, there’s so much work to be done.”

Cheryl Reeve, Moore’s head coach and general manager, said on Thursday, “Maya Moore got to celebrate another championship yesterday, and none of us who have been blessed to have Maya in our lives are surprised. I cannot imagine, however, what this one must feel like.”

Reeve added, “I also can’t help but feel a great deal of anger. Maya Moore should never have had to leave her profession to engage in the fight against the two-tiered criminal justice system that over-polices, wrongfully convicts, and over-sentences black and brown communities. The criminal justice system in America is so far from fair and equal, and it angers me that Maya has had to sacrifice so much to overcome this racially disparate system.”

Jonathan Irons: ‘I can live life now’

In video posted to Moore’s Instagram page, Irons walked out of prison Wednesday to cheers. Overwhelmed, Moore fell to her knees, jumped for joy, and then asked her longtime friend how he felt.

“I feel like I can live life now,” Irons said. “I’m free, I’m blessed. I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence.” He thanked his supporters, including Moore and her family. “I hope to be an agent of positive change,” Irons added. “I want to be an advocate, part of the conversation going forward, for justice and police reform.”

Speaking to Good Morning America on Thursday, Moore said, “I really felt like I could rest” after seeing Irons go free. “We’d been standing for so long, and…I just felt relief. It was kind of a worshipful moment, just dropping to my knees and just being so thankful that we made it.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 27 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.