The Undefeated is set to debut the film humanizing a slain 25-year-old Black man from Georgia.
Arbery, a Black man, went on his routine run in Brunswick, Georgia in February 2020 when he stopped by a vacant house. When Arbery came out of the house and resumed his run, Travis and Gregory McMichael, two white men, chased and killed him. The trial for the MicMichael’s and William Bryan, a bystander who blocked Arbery’s path along with the McMichael’s truck, is set to start soon after a jury has been selected. As of Oct. 26, the jury selection for the trial is still being finalized in Chatham County Superior Court.
Over the past year and a half, Arbery’s death and case has received mass national coverage, but ESPN’s documentary isn’t only about his death.
The documentary sets the scene by talking about a 25 year old’s life. His dreams growing up as an undersized football player in a small town, his career goals after graduating high school in 2012, navigating young adulthood and soft-spoken personality. The documentary then shifts to his posthumous legacy and the larger-than-life impact he left on America.
The phrase “Run with Maud” was first coined by Arbery’s high school football coach Jason Vaughn. The coach publicly defended Arbery’s character after the local newspaper initially reported the 25 year old committed a burglary before being killed. The newspaper article was the only story the public had of Arbery’s death until a radio station released the video footage over 70 days after Arbery’s death. Arbery’s best friend Akeem Baker grabbed the phrase and started the Facebook group “Run with Maud ‘’ as a community effort to get justice for Arbery. The page started out with 38 members.
Now, on the 23rd of every month, a local group runs together in Arbery’s memory.
The documentary features familiar Atlanta sports voices like former Falcons running back Warrick Dunn. New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins is also featured in the production, as the trailer shows.
Last summer, the Atlanta Hawks were as active as any professional sports franchise on social justice issues in efforts led by former head coach Lloyd Pierce. All-Star point guard Trae Young has remained vocal on the case of Julius Jones, a Black Oklahoman man who claims he’s wrongly been accused of murder. Jones’ clemency hearing in the face of execution has been delayed to Nov. 1.
The “I Run With Maud” documentary is an important story to air because it keeps a young man’s story alive past a trending hashtag that’s a trending topic for two weeks. When runners around America went outside for a jog on Arbery’s birthday in May 2020, the majority of the public demanded justice for him. Now, 17 months later, a well-produced film will shed light on his legacy.
Go watch/stream the documentary on ESPN+.