To Baltimore with Love
UA celebrates the city of Baltimore with the UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN Collection
This is a love letter. To a city that redefines resiliency. To the beauty and strength of the Black community that has so much to offer. To the connection and possibilities that sports bring.
This Black History Month, we celebrate Black Baltimore.
Driven by Baltimore artist, Community Leader, Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow, and UA Photographer Devin Allen, whose photos have twice graced the cover of TIME magazine, this collaboration highlights the untold stories of young Baltimore athletes as they persevere and fight to change the future.
Using the power of sport to support, inspire, and provide access for the next generation, the UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN Collection also contributes to their development through partnerships with two Baltimore-based nonprofits.
Check out the stories below and get to know the people behind our most personal collection yet.
MEET DEVIN ALLEN
In the spring of 2015, Devin picked up a camera to document the heartache and anger in the streets following the death of Freddie Gray. His ability to capture moments large and small in Baltimore has led to widespread recognition, landing the cover of TIME magazine twice. He is now bringing his city to life nationwide with a capsule collection and youth arts programming.Read More
Hear from our Chief People and Administrative Officer Tchernavia Rocker on the teammates and community that inspired this love letter.
"What I care about is what the true experiences of teammates are within our walls."
“I want to tell stories of unsung heroes.”
Baltimore Artist, Community Leader & UA Photographer
A LETTER FROM UA BEAT
This collection wouldn’t be possible without the advocacy of our own Black Teammate Resource Group, BEAT (Black Employees Achieving Together), who brought this to life in the community we call home.
“At heart, BEAT is community. It fosters connection and the ability to express ourselves authentically.” - Kendall Ogle, Director, Global Athlete Marketing
Black Employees Achieving Together – we are one of Under Armour’s original Teammate Resource Groups which was founded on the principle of fellowship. Our group of dedicated Black employees and allies affirm and celebrate our diversity.
Our vision is unwavering. We are committed to a company culture where Black teammates feel a sense of belonging and have equitable access to growth. We stand for equality and value inclusive and empathetic leadership. We celebrate the Black experience in sport. We leverage our corporate strength to be a global force for good in the Black community.
We are proud of Under Armour’s expression for Black History Month. Talented BEAT members across the business brought this collection to life in a way that is authentic to us. We are unapologetically Black. We love sport. We rep Baltimore – a city that is underserved and often misunderstood. We aim to change the narrative with this line. Driven by the legendary Devin Allen, this product centers the voice of one of the most revolutionary artists of our generation.
Under Armour has committed to taking action in our stand for equality. BEAT will continue to advocate for our teammates and hold ourselves accountable to real and meaningful progress. We stand in solidarity with our Black teammates, athletes, and communities because we know we matter. We always have. Our community deserves more – more healing, more progress, more joy- and we empower those who strive for more.
“BEAT has given Black teammates a forum to share our individual experiences and use our collective voice in the pursuit of equality, equity, and inclusion at UA. Our passion and energy fuel us.”
Sr. Manager, Accounting & Finance
“His TIME magazine covers are iconic, but to us, Devin is our brother through BEAT and a beloved member of the Baltimore community. Contemporary and raw, Devin’s art is an inspiration.”
Sr. Lead, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
“Baltimore has soul. You can feel the energy as soon as you get here. The people, music, dance, sports, grit… Baltimore is different and Devin captures it beautifully.”
Lead, Teammate Relations
"This collection signifies our strength, our spirit and our ability to achieve our dreams. It gives the community the confidence to dream beyond their environment, but to also have pride in that their environment has allowed them to be great."
“This line serves as a reminder that we have more work to do to uplift our community. It’s inspiring that we are giving back and dedicating resources to make a real impact to the youth of Baltimore.”
Passing the Mic
Athletes, community leaders, coaches… Baltimore's own talk about the city they love.
"My mission has always been to encourage people, to boldly address injustice, and to train-up children and youth to be viable citizens. And I've translated that mission into becoming a life coach and nonprofit professional, passionate about cultivating leadership skills, professional mentoring, and community engagement for Baltimore youth.
This partnership evolved into a means of telling the story of Under Armour and why they're investing in Baltimore. When looking at Wide Angle's history with UA and tying over into programs, I showed up with questions. When you work in service of community, it's key that mission alignment matters most to ensure youth voices are uplifted and not owned or co-opted. Our missions align because we’re both dedicated to the long-term sometimes even strenuous work of being anti-racist organizations. We’re committed to the work of being diverse, equitable and inclusive.
Baltimore is a city of fighters. We fight. We’re a prideful city. We’re proud of where we come from. Once you’ve been here for over 10 years, for that amount of time, something about Baltimore grows on you. It’s the classic underdog story, you want Baltimore to succeed, that’s the energy that’s here." - Keiona Gorham
Chris: "We started off in play production and landed on working with youth — our first opportunity was with 1st and 3rd graders. We basically took our production background to the community level, turning children’s books into plays — we did everything from theater blocking, how to turn words into script, assign roles — and did two plays for friends, faculty, family. We realized that we enjoyed engaging and making an impact on that level."
Nicholas: "Our mission is to create neighborhoods that dare to dream loud. A lot of Baltimore communities are underestimated. Chris and I, we have these core competencies; we know how to produce, how to help stakeholders realize a vision, how to document the work. So how do we have these conversations with these communities — whether it's a neighborhood or a group of students — and engage in the process of making our collective vision real?"
Nicholas: "Baltimore is resilient. There’s just so much creative energy here on a collective and "do it yourself" level. There’s a duality: what people see from the outside and what’s really here in this city when you scratch at it a little more. There's a desire to contribute to their neighborhoods and make a better space that meets the needs of the community. This is a narrative that gets lost in the media."
Chris: "There's so much untapped creativity… there’s a lot of untapped everything. We’ve had great conversations with young people and all that they’ve needed is this connection with us to unlock what their future looks like. Access is a barrier."
"One thing I'd like to pass on to the next generation—I believe in learning from your mistakes. I look at myself and all the issues and challenges that I have from the way I grew up. Being comfortable with dealing with your mental health, being strong. Not seeing tears or struggling as a sign of weakness, which is something that I was taught, and I was raised that way. Teaching kids that your situation that you live in now doesn't define your future. You can control that. You can't control what's going on at home all the time, but you can control your future with your decision-making and the effort that you make. I just want them to know that people care about them. Too often in society, we deal with people, and they're not sure how much they matter to people. It's important for us to show them love so that the divide we have in our generations doesn't exist as we go forward.
I look at so many kids, and I see myself. I look at so many moms in the city, and I see my mother. I look and I see some of the places where these kids are forced to be and the opportunities they don't have. So for me, it's a lifelong mission now to make sure that I do my part to help elevate the city.
That’s why I launched the Level 82 Fund with my wife - we aim to create gathering spaces and develop programming to empower the Baltimore community to reach their full potential. We are incredibly excited to partner with Devin Allen and Stephen Curry to build out a new space at the Hilton Rec Center in West Baltimore so that kids can have a safe place to grow and develop through basketball." - Torrey Smith
"I never thought I would be a coach. But now I can't imagine doing anything else.
Basketball is a way for the community to get together and celebrate talent within the city. It's a rich tradition going back to the Skip Wise days, all the way through to Muggsy Bogues to Sam Cassell to Carmelo Anthony, Will Barton. Basketball is a language we all speak in the city of Baltimore.
And the style of play is blue collar like the town. So usually when you run across a group from Baltimore, they play hard and relentless. We like the grind, and that's represented through our athletes.
For me, it has come full circle because I didn't come from the most stable household, but team sports saved me as a young boy. I honestly believe if I didn't have community leaders to invest in me, my life wouldn't be as rich as it is now. And I'm not talking about wealth or finances, but the experiences that I've had, the relationships that I've built through the game of basketball — they're priceless. I've gone to school in Hawaii. I've played all around the world.
I know those opportunities likely wouldn't have happened for me if it were not for the game of basketball. I grew up in a rough inner city neighborhood. There weren't a lot of opportunities, but coaches poured into me and they saw something in me I didn't see in myself. And I understand it now that I'm doing the same work. I understand it because I see things in young men and young women that they don't necessarily see for themselves. I have an obligation to do that for the next generation. So it's really not work, it's actually what I would do anyway. I love it." - Donnell "Mookie" Dobbins
"I'm from Baltimore and I love my city. Because I'm from Baltimore, born and raised, I'm a product of the city. If anybody knows my background, they know I'm from the streets. If you notice when you walk around here you don't see that by hanging on that. When I go to a certain area they say, 'Yo, that's coach.' And my whole thing that I'm trying to tell them, 'Man, respect your neighborhood. When we were coming up you couldn't do certain things in that neighborhood.' The old people sit there and say, 'They doing what they doing to keep the neighborhood clean.' We did things to make sure the kids were good.
What drives me is the energy that you get from the individual that you're working with. I tell my guys, 'Man, you got to push me so I can push you. If I see you being lazy, it makes me not want to be bothered with you because you don't want to push yourself — the only person that is going to change your life is you." - Coach Calvin Ford
"As a kid, my friends and I spent hours pounding Spaldings on pavement, inventing new crossovers, in and out’s, step backs and perfecting the jay; ten toes on the ground covered by whatever type of sneakers, we bobbed and weaved across the cement — and put work in at Boceks, The Cage, Up the Park, Tech, Ellwood, behind the KFC in Zone 18 and Goldie Locks. Games went to 16, the rims had no nets and you’d get your ass beat if you thought about calling a foul.
Making it to the NBA means that you have to be one of the top 453 players in the world, out of roughly 541,000 high school athletes, 166,000 AAU ballers and 32,000 college players in America. On top of that, when you're from Baltimore, you have to reach that level of success all while trying not to be murdered. We had 335 homicides last year, and close to 35 percent of its children live below the poverty line.
So, when you see the toughness of an east Baltimore guy like Will Barton, popping back up after a hard foul, or Murphy Homes legend Carmelo Anthony finding ways to score while facing double and triple coverage or watching how Cassell closed out games in the NBA finals as a rookie back in '94 with the ease of a vet, while Kenny Smith, the more experienced starter rode the pine — just know, Baltimore created the resiliency needed to effortlessly complete those impossible tasks." - D. Watkins
"The things that we go through at a young age prepare us for the successful stages in life. And I think being in the city and being from the city has prepared me for so many things I never thought I would experience, but I've been resilient through it all. You're already prepared for every single thing that anybody in this world can throw at you. And we are people that can fight through adversity.
And I just think saying you're from the city of Baltimore is like an instant for me. Like, 'You're from Baltimore? Okay, I'm going to recruit you because I know you got what it takes to be successful and I can be tough on you and you'll be able to take it and work with that constructive criticism.' So it's just the grit. It's just the thing that we have.
I want to give back and I want to give to the city that has given so much to me, that has given so much to friends, that has given so much to family. It's just important for me to give back to that community and to that city." - Candice Walker
"I own a juice bar so people have resources on getting different foods, healthy foods and support for the whole community. It's great for everybody to just learn camaraderie, learn sportsmanship, learn how to win and lose, because you win and lose in life, not just by playing sports. Kids being able to meet challenges and sometimes win, sometimes fail. It's good for them to help them grow and become young adults.
Baltimore is home. I lived in other cities for a little bit, but when I think of Baltimore, I just think of home. I can see why they call it Charm City, because there's a lot more personality and character here; sections of the city feel a different way when you go to different neighborhoods. The fact that you can walk around one corner and the homes look one way and have white marble steps, and then you go around another corner and they're like whole front porches on that block. You can really feel the charm, like the character and the different kinds of people. The different kinds of people have their own space, they have spaces to be in Baltimore. It builds a different type of community where people still have a sense of individualism amongst their community." - Quintel Harcum
Wide Angle Youth Media is an arts-based nonprofit in Baltimore that cultivates and amplifies the voices of Baltimore youth to engage audiences across generational, cultural and social divides. Their programs inspire creativity and instill confidence in young people, empowering them with skills to navigate school, career, and life. As an expansion of their partnership with Under Armour, Devin Allen has committed to mentoring Baltimore youth and getting cameras into their hands.
Noisy Tenants is a Baltimore-based production agency started by Nicholas Mitchel and Chris Landrum. Core to their practice is engaging youth in their classrooms and neighborhoods via micro-internships called The Agency. Nicholas and Chris’ resume also includes launching social enterprises and theatre and film productions. Noisy Tenants is partnering with Under Armour to walk local youth through the creative process, from idea to completion, of creating a mural which will represent Baltimore youth voices near Oriole Park.
SEE THE COLLECTION
This Black History Month collection celebrates young Black athletes, their toughness, their resiliency, and the support of the communities that rally behind them—all through the lens of Baltimore artist Devin Allen.
UA VOICES: BLACK HISTORY MONTH SERIES
Welcome to the UA Voices speaker series for Black History Month — watch as Baltimore artist, community leader and UA photographer Devin Allen holds court with UA athlete Stephen Curry and local Baltimore community leaders about the importance of sports, arts and community in celebration of Black History Month.
UA photographer Devin Allen talks with 3x NBA Champion, founder of Curry Brand and co-founder of Eat.Learn.Play Stephen Curry alongside Torrey Smith, the 2x NFL Champion and co-founder of the Level 82 Fund on what the city of Baltimore and sports means to them in celebration of Black History Month.
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