Aaron Maybin

Born in Baltimore City, Maryland, in 1988, Maybin competed as an All-American linebacker at Penn State University before being chosen as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. After a five-year career with the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals, he chose to leave the NFL in 2014 to pursue a life of activism through art.

Maybin’s journey from football to philanthropy has been told in an HBO documentary and widely covered by ESPN, CBS, Fox, and more. His paintings, photographs, and poetry, drawn from his experiences as a pro athlete and as a young Black man in America, chronicle his hometown’s challenges with poverty and crime. His work has been exhibited locally and internationally, and his public platform and creative voice have been used to push for racial and economic equality, arts education, and recreational youth programming in underprivileged communities across the country.

When Aaron Maybin established Project Mayhem in 2009, the goal was to provide the kind of personal and economic aid needed to help at-risk youth excel and to move beyond what they might have imagined for themselves. Through Project Mayhem and in his work as a teacher, Maybin has brought art workshops and innovative programs into many schools in the Baltimore City area—schools that have experienced budget cuts due to a lack of state funding. Maybin teaches creative arts and literacy, and his own Art Activism Curriculum is currently being taught in many Baltimore public schools. He is also co-founder of the Operation Heat campaign, which has raised over $90,000 for schools struggling with heating issues throughout the long winters. And in 2020, he served on the transition team for newly appointed Mayor Brandon Scott, as a member of the Arts & Culture Committee.

Aaron Maybin continues to advocate and defend—for the kind of public policy that will restore and protect art programs in our schools and for economic opportunities for the people of Baltimore who need it most.