No Moore Maya

It’s been a long four years since Maya Moore graced us with her presence on a WNBA court. The last time she suited up was for the Minnesota Lynx in 2019 and if you ever had the opportunity to see her play, I’m sure she didn’t disappoint. 

Moore’s athleticism combined with an impeccable fade away jumper, truly made her second to none and easily atop the league’s best players. I could literally watch her play forever but unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Moore officially announced her retirement on January 16, 2023 via  “Good Morning America,” ending all optimism and speculation that she may return to the court one day. 

Super strong in her beliefs, Maya has always given God all the glory for her success and achievements. From post-game pressers to countless interviews, Moore has leaned on her Christian values and allowed them to shape her as a player and person. So when she finally decided to walk away from basketball, it was no surprise that she found a new calling centered around her faith.

The former Collins HIll (Suwanee, Ga.) national player of the year and two-time NCAA champ began to advocate for prosecutorial reform in the American justice system. With influence from her god parents, she shifted her focus to a specific case, surrounding a family friend named Jonathan Irons. Moore met Irons when she was 18 and set to enroll at the University of Connecticut to begin her collegiate career. They kept in touch while Irons served a 50-year sentence that began when he was 16 years old, when he was arrested for a non-fatal shooting. Despite there being no physical evidence linking Irons to the crime, he served 20 years until Moore was instrumental in securing his release. On July 2, 2020 Irons was officially a free man and the two decided to start the next chapter of their lives together. They married that same year and recently had a beautiful baby boy.

From the outside looking in, Moore’s story is kind of crazy if you think about what transpired between the end of her career and Irons’ false imprisonment. Everything happened so fast and totally unexpected. Imagine the courage it takes to step away from the one thing everyone believes you should be doing, only to decide that you should be doing something else. Fighting for a life became greater than fighting on the court. Not only did her efforts pay off but she found love in the process. Selfishly, it’s hard to wrap your head around the decisions Moore made, but it’s not for us to understand only to respect.

As a player, one could only dream of having a career like Maya Moore. She is easily the greatest player of my generation and arguably of all-time. When it comes to accolades, there isn’t anything Moore hasn’t done. From two-time NCAA champion and four-time NCAA All-American to three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, WNBA Rookie of the year, six-time WNBA All-Star, league MVP and four-time champion with the Minnesota Lynx.

The accolades and praise could go on and on, but what I appreciate most about Moore extends beyond the basketball court. Everybody has a story to tell but I don’t think you will find many that walked away from all that they knew at the height of their career. I think that’s a testament to who she is as a person. Maya did everything her way. She didn’t announce her final season or travel from city to city, allowing people to shower her with love and admiration. Maybe she didn’t expect things to end like this because it goes without saying that the league would have certainly found a way to give Moore her flowers. As a fan, I would have loved to see her on that farewell tour but her quiet exit definitely enhanced her legacy. 

Maya Moore will reign supreme in the women’s basketball world forever. She left people wanting to see her play again and wondering what more she could have done on the court. I feel for those who will never get the chance to see her play. It was certainly an honor to have witnessed it. Instead, all we have are the memories of the player she once was, that even a highlight reel won’t do justice. You truly had to be there.   

Even more than her play, she is a great reminder that the ball eventually stops bouncing and there is more to life, and that something you do, even do great, doesn’t define everything you are as a person.

One Reply to “No Moore Maya”

  1. I don’t know her but I’m impressed by what I’ve just read. It’s a truth that when we let God lead, he will take you places better than we can imagine or think. This beautiful gal has moved into her next career as wife and mother. How wonderful.

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