Tattoos and sports have forged a unique and tightly intertwined relationship in recent times. Just as the industry gains traction and popularity among the masses, athletes have also become increasingly covered in tattoos. Of course, this is most visible in the National Basketball Association due to the nature of the sleeveless jerseys; on any given night, you can see NBA pro’s embrace and flaunt their ink out on the court.
There are many recognized tattoo poster boys in the NBA; Chris “Birdman” Andersen of the Miami Heat has “Free Bird” blasted on his neck (amongst his countless other tattoos), J.R Smith of the New York Knicks is covered head to toe, and reigning MVP and NBA champion, Lebron James famously had “Chosen 1” inked across his back. The latest to make headlines though is a relatively obscure player by the name of James Johnson on the Memphis Grizzlies.
Johnson, who has “NAYMIN 3.9.13” tattooed across his neck, has been a pleasant surprise for the team, leading the league with 15 blocked three point shots, and emerged as a fan favorite for the city. What does his tattoo represent? Naymin is Johnson’s infant son who was born six weeks premature and fought for his life until finally regaining full health after a lengthy battle in intensive care. A fitting tribute to his life’s blood, and as Johnson put himself “After that day, the head on my shoulders was different from what it was before.”
His consistent and tireless on court performance has also been recognized by the team; On the Memphis Grizzlies February 21st home game against conference rivals the Los Angeles Clippers, the first five thousand fans through the doors will get fake neck tattoos with “GRIZZLIES” inscripted on them. A great tribute to a hard working player and a blue collar team!