Aaron Maybin

Aaron Maybin was selected as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills and is a former defensive end standout at Penn State University. Aaron went on to play in the NFL for the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals. Aaron also played professionally by bringing senior talent and experience to the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL. His retirement from the NFL and professional football made media headlines when Aaron retired to pursue an already successful career in art. His transition from full-time NFL superstar to full-time artist and philanthropist has been extensively covered by ESPN, CBS, and even garnered an HBO documentary warmly received by critics.

Long before Aaron started his football career, he turned to painting, drawing, and writing poetry to push through the tragedies in his life. When his mother, Connie, died due to complications giving birth to his sister then 6-year-old Aaron turned to the arts to escape. His father, Michael, bought reams of paper in bulk from a local warehouse in Baltimore to help settle down his rambunctious son. The arts helped Aaron focus. When an idea exploded in his mind, he rushed for his crayons, pens, pastels or brushes.

For as long as he can remember, Maybin wanted to play in the NFL, but the arts provided another outlet. He won a competition at age 11 that allowed him to paint a 40” x 50” mural on the side of a Habitat for Humanity building in downtown Baltimore. He found inspiration in his successes and struggles. He used oil paints, acrylics and pastels. 

A paintbrush and pen helped him cope with the conflicting emotions surrounding the birth of his daughter, Tacori, and the death of her brother, David in 2010. He learned through art, his first love, to find his way as his parents, both pastors, prayed for him. “I’m still not over it,” says Maybin. “When you lose a child, there’s not really anything that can explain how that feels. ”

He placed his fate in his Christian faith. “It was a test to see if I was going to give up or not. I’m still swinging. I’m still fighting. I’m still here.”

Aaron’s art now consumes the next stage of his life. Critical acclaim has followed him from football to canvas, as ESPN, HBO and others have highlighted the extraordinary work Maybin creates.

Aaron uses his artistry to give back to his community. In 2009, Aaron established Project Mayhem to provide aid, both personal and economic, to help underprivileged and at risk youth excel beyond their current conditions. Project Mayhem is a charitable fund registered under The Poise Foundation, a registered 501C3.