Maya Moore represented women’s basketball at the ESPYs by winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Additionally, Layshia Clarendon was nominated for the prestigious Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, Paige Bueckers won best female college athlete, Tara VanDerveer won best coach and Becca Murray won best female athlete with a disability.
Maya Moore had already been chosen as the recipient of the 2021 Arthur Ashe Courage Award. On Saturday night accepted the award and gave a speech at the ESPYs in New York City.
Moore received the award for her courage in stepping away from the WNBA to focus on criminal justice reform. She helped a wrongfully imprisoned man, Jonathan Irons, now her husband, get out of jail last summer and is working to help others like him with her social action campaign Win With Justice.
It was courageous of Moore to leave the game of basketball when she was at the top of her game and perhaps chasing GOAT status. However, Moore elaborated on a more important aspect of her courage on Saturday night.
“If you want to say I have courage, I’d say my courage has not been as much in me not playing, but in the emotional and mental and spiritual outpouring into love and fighting against injustice,” she said.
Moore described Win With Justice as “meant to help inspire, educate and equip all of us to be active participants against prosecutorial misconduct in our justice system.” She said that she is partnering with a non-profit called For the People that “supports prosecutors and family members as they seek to remedy unjust sentences.”
“Together, we’re offering a new tool to win with justice: prosecutor-initiated re-sentencing,” Moore said. “It’s for prosecutors, it’s for community members who are all working to bring their loved ones home. And with this new tool, prosecutors now have the ability to reunite families and restore communities that have been decimated by mass incarceration.”
In addition to updating us on the Win With Justice vision, Moore left us with a powerful ending to her speech, saying, “power is not meant to be gripped with a clenched fist or to be hoarded, but power is meant to be handled generously so we can thoughtfully empower one another to thrive in our communities for love’s sake, championing our humanity before our ambitions.”
Minnesota Lynx guard Layshia Clarendon was nominated for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award and though they did not win, they should be commended for their work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as their involvement in the Say Her Name campaign during the 2020 WNBA season.
Paige Bueckers was named the best college athlete in women’s sports and chose to dedicate her speech to black female athletes, saying they deserve more media coverage.
Other women’s basketball winners/nominees
Best coach – Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer (won, award presented by recently retired UNC men’s coach Roy Williams, who was introduced by New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu)
Best athlete with a disability (women’s sports) – Becca Murray (won, wheelchair basketball)
Best WNBA player – Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (nominated), Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale (nominated), Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker (nominated) and Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (won)
Best female athlete – Breanna Stewart (nominated)
Best breakthrough athlete – Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield (nominated)
Best team – Seattle Storm (nominated) and Stanford women’s basketball (nominated)
Best game – Stanford/Arizona NCAAW championship (nominated)
Best record-breaking performance – Tara VanDerveer passes former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt (nominated)
Best play – Phoenix Mercury guard Shey Peddy’s buzzer-beater in first round of 2020 WNBA playoffs (nominated) and Natalia Chavez New Mexico high school state championship half-court buzzer-beater (nominated)