BALTIMORE (WTAJ) – A Penn State Nittany Lion turned NFL player left the game to follow his true passion. Aaron Maybin believes quitting the game has had a positive impact on his community.

Maybin traded his blocks and crampons for pencils and brushes. Now he uses his art to shape the community around him in Baltimore, Maryland. The 32-year-old has been very successful. He started his athletic career at Penn State and in 2009 he was a first-round pick for the Buffalo Bills. He then joined the New York Jets where he ended his career in 2013.

“If I fell dead tomorrow and the greatest thing anyone can say about me is that he was a damn good football player, then I wasted a lot of time in my life,” said Maybin.

His artistic career took off after his retirement with paintings selling for up to $ 20,000. But Maybin dreamed of inspiring real change in black communities like those in his hometown.

“When you talk about reforming or changing a society, it starts with our young people. It starts with the investment we make in our youth, ”he says.

Maybin combined his passion for creativity with what he believes is the key to improving the lives of people of color, education. He added that “many parts of our educational process invalidate our children’s livelihoods, invalidate their life experiences and invalidate their humanity.”

Until this fall, Maybin was teaching the creative arts in underfunded public schools. He raised over $ 90,000 to help buy heating systems for Baltimore public schools. He says there are too many students in city centers who lack the basic tools to just sit in a classroom and learn.

Maybin also uses his creativity to improve the learning methods of underprivileged students. He has written two books, an exercise book and designed a number of works of art that reflect the lives of the children who read them.

Maybin adds, “Until I saw an educator who looked like me, I didn’t think they existed. Not that you’re ignorant enough to think it couldn’t be, but you don’t know what it looks like. I always wanted my work to be something that the little children who grew up where I grew up and who look like me see themselves reflected and see their complexion, see their hairstyles, see their history reflected on them.

Besides creating positive examples for young black college students, he still sells his “activist work” to adults for the same reason.

Getting out of the field and picking up a brush is just his first step in bringing culture to the canvas for this generation and more to come.

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