With a series of viral tweets, the whole country quickly learned of the absurd classroom conditions thousands of Baltimore City Public Schools students were facing in January 2018, when temperatures plunged, pipes froze and classrooms were left close to freezing.
"This is what #Baltimore students trying to learn in a 40 degree classroom looks like," Aaron Maybin, an art teacher at Matthew A. Henson Elementary in West Baltimore, posted to Instagram, alongside a video and photo of students huddled in winter coats. "Just in case anyone gives a damn…"
After four seasons as an NFL linebacker, Maybin in 2013 hung up his cleats for a career in art and activism, which he has said are his true calling. "One of the best things about my life now is that I don't ever have that issue of having to answer to somebody for the things I say or do," he told The Sun in a profile two years post-retirement.
And with that freedom, he's used his skills and platform for good, raising funds for Baltimore's underserved and using his art and poetry to detail the city's most stubborn and pressing challenges for a wide audience. For examples, look to Project Mayhem, a nonprofit he founded to provide art resources and instruction in schools where they're lacking, or his 2017 book "Art Activism," in which he calls attention to structural inequities through his writing and visual artwork.
And daily, there's his time spent in the classroom, teaching students how to express themselves through creativity or, in dire cases like that of January 2018, helping to raise money for space heaters to keep kids warm.
"Without the platform that football created and the money I made, I would never be able to have the same impact that I am having now," Maybin told The Undefeated in December 2017. "Once people say 'former first-round pick,' then people start to listen."
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