Women's Sport: Ten reasons Maya Moore is an incredible athlete on and off the basketball court

Former WNBA star Maya Moore is both talented and selfless – four Final Four appearances, two NCAA titles, the first female player to sign with the Jordan Brand and an activist in the Jonathan Irons criminal case.

We are taking a look at the Top 10 reasons Moore stands out above the rest as an incredible player and inspirational human:

1. The Jonathan Irons Case

In 2019, at the age of 29, Moore left her WNBA career with the Minnesota Lynx as she pursued her own mission to get closer to God and address the wrongfulness of the US Criminal Justice System. She had met Jonathan Irons, a man sentenced to 50 years in prison for a 1989 burglary and assault despite lack of evidence, at the age of 18 while visiting a prison ministry initiative.

From their first meeting, Moore dedicated her time to help where possible but her WNBA hiatus meant she could focus fully on the case and, together with lawyers, work to overturn Irons’ conviction.

Speaking to the LA Times, Moore said:

“There was a lot of attention around police shootings and officers being shot. My [Lynx] teammates and I wanted to use our voices to help those who didn’t feel like they had a voice. We all need to be better but we also need accountability and we need to acknowledge what is happening to one group of people in particular.

“There’s no question that Colin [Kaepernick] is a part of sparking a new wave of athletes using our voice and I definitely got courage from him. When he said ‘Change starts with us,’ it gave me the courage to raise my voice.”

In 2019, after 23 years trapped in the wrongful justice system, Irons’ had his sentence vacated, something almost unthinkable before the media attention Moore brought to the injustices of the case. 

She took a stand for the countless number of people unjustly imprisoned, not only in the US but in the rest of the world. The Irons case helped Moore to really stress the influence athletes have in all aspects of society and that sticking to sport would be an even bigger injustice than the US legal system.

Maya Moore really saved a life.

2. Gatorade National Player of the Year

Moore led her high school team to three straight Georgia state championships and a four-year 125-3 record, as well as taking home four national championship trophies with her elite club travel team.

3. UConn College Basketball Career

Moore sank 3036 pts in 154 games over four years for UConn, making that a consistent 19.7ppg and marking her as the fastest player to reach 1,000 pts in UConn history. Upon her graduation, Moore’s trophy case contained three Wade Trophy Awards (given annually to the nation’s best player), two Wooden and Naismith Awards and two National Championship trophies.

Finishing her career on an incredible 150-4 record, Moore set the all-time NCAA mark for career wins and became the second player in its history to be named an All-American four times. 

4. Obama’s dream team for wounded troops

In 2010, Moore was selected alongside current and former basketball stars, including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, by former President Barack Obama to play for injured US troops. The game took place at a gym inside Washington’s Fort McNair, a short drive from the White House as all reporters and media coverage was blocked for the event.

5. 2011 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Lynx fans predicted the award long before the season began, with the former Connecticut star and two-time NCAA National Champion being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft. Moore topped all rookies in points (13.2 ppg), minutes (28.0 mpg) and steals (1.4 spg) in her debut season and snatched two out of three WNBA Rookie of the Month honours.

6. Forbe’s 30 under 30 of 2015

Recognised as a game-changer in her industry on more than one occasion, Moore also landed a spot on the 2015 Forbe’s 30 under 30. A sportswoman dedicated to rewriting the rules for the next generation of young female sports stars both on the court and in humanitarian work off the court. 

7. Team USA Basketball

Moore received an invite to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp in Autumn 2009, making her one of only three college players at the camp. She went on to be selected to represent the USA in the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women, held in the Czech Republic, and powered the team to a gold medal, averaging 8.7 ppg.

Elected to the USA team for both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, Moore secured another two gold medals and became one of the few WNBA players to hold NCAA titles, WNBA Championships and Olympic gold medals.

8. Maya Moore’s Mission to Haiti

Moore is also a celebrity champion for UNICEF’s Kid Power movement, an initiative to promote good health and global citizenship while addressing the decline in physical activity among American children, and pervasive malnutrition among children in developing countries. The WNBA star helped generate enthusiasm for the movement by leading activities and attending promotional events. 

9. 2017 Player of the Year for Sports Illustrated

After leading the Lynx to their 2017 Championship title, Moore had racked up her fourth WNBA championship and Sports Illustrated took notice. The key player on over a dozen teams that have ended up victorious, the Olympic gold medallist had excelled since 2011 both at home and overseas in China and Europe.

SI’s Richard Deitsch even dubbed Moore “the Greatest Winner in [the] History of Women’s Basketball” as he credited her consistent success for over a decade as the main reason for the award.

10. END IT Movement

Moore became one of many sportspeople to join the END IT movement, an initiative to shine a light on modern-day slavery and human trafficking. It’s estimated that 40.3 million men, women, and children are forced into various forms of slavery today – that’s more than any point in history – and celebrities are snapping pictures with a signature red cross on their hands as a sign of unity.

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