Maya Moore, basketball legend and Collins Hill product, announces retirement

Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore, a six-time All-Star, four-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, announced her retirement from the WNBA on Monday. Moore, 33, enjoyed an all-time illustrious career dating back to her days at Collins Hill.

Moore paused her basketball career in 2019 to help Jonathan Irons get a 50-year sentence overturned and win release from prison. Moore was at the forefront of a yearslong effort to free Irons, who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The pair married in 2020 shortly after he was freed. Moore and Irons had a son, Jonathan Jr., in July.

ExploreMaya Moore: ‘A lot of reasons to love Atlanta'

Moore, a Jefferson City, Mo., native, officially announced her retirement on “Good Morning America” on Monday. She spoke with reporters afterward.

“I always tried to bring energy, I always tried to bring light and joy and intensity to what I was doing,” Moore said. “I hope people saw me as someone who gave all she had in what she was doing. Whatever play it was, whatever moment I was engaging with the person, I tried to give my all in those moments.

“But also somebody who looked beyond the craft that I pursued and tried to value people. Having a proper perspective, having a healthy life-giving perspective about where people fit into this journey of life that we’re in. Just someone who never gave up, whether it was being down in a game and trying to help the team come back or not giving up on a person, like Jonathan. Or just persisting through the grind of every year. I tried to finish the things I said ‘yes’ to.”

Sports Illustrated called Moore the greatest winner in the history of women’s basketball. That path began in the Atlanta area, where Moore was one of the best athletes in state history.

ExploreMaya Moore, who put career on hold, helps overturn prisoner’s conviction

She was the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and National Gatorade Player of the Year at Collins Hill, becoming the top recruit in the country in 2007. The Eagles went 125-3 and won three state championships in her high school career. She scored 2,664 points and secured 1,212 rebounds. In July, Max Preps named her one of its top 20 athletes of the past 20 years.

Moore won consecutive national championships with UConn, as the Huskies went 150-4 over her collegiate career, including a 90-game winning streak. She twice won AP College Player of the Year (2009, 2011), the John Wooden Award (2009, 2011) and Naismith College Player of the Year (2009, 2011). She was a three-time Big East Player of the Year and won NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2010.

The Lynx drafted Moore No. 1 overall in 2011. She won four WNBA championships with Minnesota and two Olympic gold medals with USA basketball (2012, 2016). Among her other accolades: WNBA Rookie of the Year (2011), WNBA Finals MVP (2013; which she won in Atlanta – “To do that in one of my home states, such a sweet memory,” she said), WNBA MVP (2014) and being named on Time’s 100 Most Influential People (2020).

“I couldn’t have written this story like this,” she said. “This has definitely been unexpected, but at the same time, it’s been really thoughtful, planned and prepared. That’s life, right? A lot of it is unexpected, but you also try your best to be prepared. That’s basketball, too. You don’t know how the game will unfold, but you do your best to prepare.”

While Moore missed her teammates, she said she was too centered on her work the past four years to have been truly tempted to return to basketball. Moore will continue focusing on social advocacy, community work and criminal justice reform.

“I think whenever you pause and stop something great to say there’s something more important, that gains attention, as it should,” Moore said. “That actually ended up bleeding into my life, getting the courage to say, ‘Let’s hold on and give attention to what matters most,’ which are people, and people thriving, and people’s well-being. Our personal story with Jonathan was just at the forefront for me over these last few years and shifting away from the game.

“I just hope people take away from this the heartbeat of what we were trying to do, which was being more human and more caring and more compassionate, and also saying it’s OK to grieve what’s worth grieving.”

Moore will be eligible for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2024.