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Celebrated Women's National Team Star Maya Moore Retires

  • Author:
    Chros McDougall, Red Line Editorial
  • Date:
    Jan 17, 2023

Maya Moore, a champion at every level who played a key role in leading the USA Women’s National Team to four global championships, announced her retirement on Monday, four years after she stepped away from the sport in the prime of her career to focus on social justice issues.

“I think it is time to put a close to the pro basketball life,” Moore, 33, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I walked away four seasons ago, but I wanted to officially retire. This is such a sweet time for us and our family and the work that we've done; I want to continue that in this next chapter. I want to continue to be present at home, for our community, and also doing work with our nonprofit — hangin’ it up."  

A generational talent, Moore thrived at every level — high school, college, pro, international — racking up both individual accolades and team championships.

That included many highlights with USA Basketball. After playing with three junior national teams, Moore was named to the senior national team in 2010 and won two Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016 and two FIBA Women’s World Cups in 2010 and 2014 while accumulating a 48-1 career record with USA Basketball.

“Congratulations to Maya on an outstanding professional basketball career,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said. “Maya was a fixture with USA Basketball for more than a decade, winning her first gold medal in 2006 and attending Women’s National Team minicamps as recently as 2018. After starting her international career on the U18 National Team in 2006, Maya went on to be a mainstay on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, winning a combined four Olympic and FIBA World gold medals.

"We thank Maya for her many contributions to our organization and the game of basketball. Even more impressive than her basketball accolades is her advocacy and work off the court with ‘Win With Justice.’ All of us wish Maya continued success in all that she does.”

In February 2019, less than three years removed from a second Olympic gold medal and two years from a fourth WNBA title with the Minnesota Lynx, Moore stunned the basketball world when she announced she was taking a break from the sport.

She was 29 at the time and never returned.

Instead, Moore focused on her faith and social justice. In particular, she sought to overturn the wrongful conviction of Jonathan Irons, a family friend. Those efforts proved successful in 2020, when Irons was released nearly 24 years into his 50-year sentence.

Moore and Irons married soon after, and they had their first child, Jonathan Jr., in July.

Born in Jefferson City, Missouri, Moore moved to Georgia by high school and led Collins Hill to three Georgia state championships plus a runner-up finish.

That preceded a remarkable four-year run at the University of Connecticut, where Moore’s teams reached four Final Fours, won back-to-back national titles in 2009 and 2010, and accumulated 150-4 record — including an NCAA record 90-game win streak.

From there, the Lynx selected Moore with the first pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft. A team that had posted two winning seasons over its 12 years of existence became a dynasty. Alongside fellow U.S. Olympians Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, and later Sylvia Fowles, Moore and the Lynx reached the WNBA Finals six times in seven years from 2011 to 2017, winning four of them.

“On behalf of the Minnesota Lynx organization, I want to congratulate Maya on an incredible basketball career,” Lynx coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve said in a statement. “We will always cherish her time in a Lynx uniform and we wish her the best as she continues to pursue this next chapter of her life.”  

Reeve has also been the USA Women’s National Team head coach since 2021. 

In addition to winning championships, Moore’s individual stardom earned her awards everywhere she went.

She was twice the consensus National Player of the Year while at UConn, the 2011 WNBA Rookie of the Year, the 2013 WNBA Finals MVP and the 2014 WNBA MVP, while also earning six WNBA All-Star berths and five All-WNBA First-Team selections.

With USA Basketball, Moore earned MVP honors at the 2014 World Cup (then called the World Championship) and was later named the organization’s Female Athlete of the Year.

Over her career with USA Basketball, going back into her time with youth national teams, Moore averaged 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals.

Moore was also a transcendent figure off the court, featuring in national advertising campaigns.

In a statement, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert praised Moore’s basketball career but said “perhaps her greatest legacy will be what she accomplished beyond the game.

“Her staunch advocacy for change to the criminal justice system through her ‘Win With Justice’ project elevated her impact to new heights, and her work has and will continue to inspire her fans around the world” 

Chrös McDougall has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports since 2009. Based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, he is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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