The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Omar Vega—Invision for Jordan Brand/AP
By Bryan Stevenson
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

With multiple WNBA championships, Olympic gold medals and back-to-back collegiate national titles, Maya Moore is “the greatest winner in the history of women’s basketball,” as Sports Illustrated put it. So last year, when she decided to forgo playing professional basketball at the prime of her career to advocate for reform of the U.S. criminal-justice system, many were stunned.

Moore has brought the same skill and determination that has made her one of the best basketball players in the world to her advocacy. This summer, she once again prevailed, helping to win the release of Jonathan Irons, who had spent more than 20 years in prison after being wrongly convicted. In the U.S. criminal-justice system—which treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent—that is a remarkable achievement. And Moore and Irons are now happily married.

With so much angst, pain, sorrow and dismay in our nation, many are asking what we should require from our celebrated athletes, entertainers and influencers. On the day of Irons’ release, Moore—who was there to greet him—evoked a powerful line from scripture: do justice, love mercy, walk humbly.

Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy

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