Minnesota Lynx guard Maya Moore receives June WNBA Cares Community Assist Award Her passion for supporting underprivileged children and improving criminal justice reform is being rewarded
Minnesota Lynx All-Star Maya Moore says she’s been given an “opportunity that’s bigger than basketball.” In an on-camera video for The Players’ Tribune, Moore told former NBA player and Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Jerry Stackhouse that she gets pretty worked up when seeing injustice.
Inspired by the story of an incarcerated family friend, she’s spending much of her time off the court fighting against wrongful convictions.
Her deep passion for this work and her support of underprivileged youths has earned her the WNBA Cares Community Assist award for June, the WNBA announced Thursday. The honor is awarded each month during the WNBA season to a player who best reflects the WNBA’s passion to make a difference in the community.
“I’m honored to be a part of celebrating the great work that was able to be done between the community and the Lynx organization,” said Moore. “I love having a chance to use the game of basketball to serve those around me.”
Moore says Jonathan Irons, who was sentenced to prison for the nonfatal shooting of a homeowner during a robbery in 1997 near her hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri, is serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Irons has served 21 years of his 50-year sentence. As Moore looked into his case, she believed there was a lack of evidence.
She has worked with Athletes for Impact, an organization that connects athletes with the community, to launch the Win With Justice project, an interactive platform seeking to advance a fair and equitable criminal justice system.
On June 17, Moore hosted her annual Maya Moore Academy in Minneapolis, where she awarded the Minnesota Lynx FastBreak Foundation with 20 scholarships, giving local underserved female youths an opportunity to attend her camp free of charge.
When the Lynx celebrated its 2017 WNBA championship in Washington, D.C., despite not receiving an invitation to the White House, Moore and her team partnered with the nonprofit Samaritan’s Feet to provide all 340 students at Payne Elementary School with new Jordan Brand shoes and Nike socks. The team also played basketball with students from the school, which serves homeless children and students from low-income families.
Before the Lynx’s 2018 home opener, a poster of Moore debuted outside Target Center. After a picture of 4-year-old Liliana Sikakane posing in front of the billboard went viral, Moore and the Lynx invited Liliana and her father, Justice, to their practice facility, where she received a surprise meet-and-greet from the five-time WNBA All-Star. Liliana and her family were also invited to Minnesota’s game on June 1, where they sat courtside for pregame warm-ups.
In recognition of Moore’s efforts, the WNBA and State Farm will donate $5,000 to benefit the Social Impact Fund.