I guess the right to have bare arms and chest is scraped off from professional athletics’ constitution! It comes across as if many professional athletes got their skin in the game — turning their bare bodies into a tapestry of artwork as their careers caught ignition.
While we all have our unique choices, preferences when choosing inkwork, I have zeroed down on the ten best athletes tattoos you need to check-out. It’s time these athletes got their share of recognition.
#1: Kevin Durant
If there’s a player who holds a reputation as one of the ‘nice guys’ in the NBA, it’s Kevin Durant, and that’s primarily why it completely surprised me when I first got my eyes on his tattoos.
Additionally, these tattoos might not be visible as Durant gets it on with his Granny Shots, but his entire back and torso are well-covered with inkwork – yet another surprise! If you haven’t noticed it yourself, let me break it to you, it’s a phenomenal mural and work of art. Most of his designs call attention to his religion, something he has been very expressive about since his career. Durant’s artwork heavily revolves around an enormous image of Jesus, a bible verse, an angel holding on to a basketball, and a pair of hands. On his stomach, he exhibits a cross, more scripture, amongst a few other bold inkwork.
#2: Andrei Kirilenko
Spooky! Terrifying! Uncanny! Kirilenko’s genuinely our #1 nominee for the boldest yet an impressive tattoo-holder in the NBA.
The well-detailed designs showcase a flying beast, indeed a World of Warcraft character – an artwork that you’re more likely to expect on a character from Sinister, but not on a down to earth, friendly basketballer! Kirilenko’s tattoo shields his entire back, but it has faded over time, and it isn’t quite as noticeable as it used to be, saving a few kids from nightmares.
#3: Brent Burns
There are many die-hard Potterheads out there, but Brent Burns might be the finest of them all. Burns has marked his love for Harry Potter with a colorful, colossal tattoo covering up his entire thigh.
The inkwork displays a blue dragon at our own Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with Potter flying on his broomstick against the starry night sky. It is a fascinating concept for a professional ice hockey defenseman and alternate captain for the San Jose Sharks of the NHL, isn’t it?
#4: Dennis Rodman
I’m sure you were expecting this. I mean, it’s unfair to discuss inkwork and not have ‘The Worm’ on the list. Well, Rodman has a wide graphic image spread across his body, he has tribal tattoos – that was huge in the 90’s – which were way more decorative than meaningful. He also exhibits a couple of wings around his neck, with the word ‘infinity’ inked right under them. Moving down, he has a couple of bulls as a mirror image on his right across his chest.
To be honest, ‘The Worm’ might no longer be stealing hearts on the basketball court, but he is still intriguing his fans off of it, and clearly, this is why he is such a famous personality in the world of basketball.
#5: Mike Tyson
If Kirilenko were our #1 nominee for the boldest tattoo-holder, Tyson would be the award-winner for the boldest face tattoo in history. The former heavyweight champion indeed held a scared, stunned career, and shocked many, but our reaction was no different when he first displayed his face tattoo in 2003.
Tyson’s design resembles the Maori tribe and is said to portray Tyson’s ‘warrior status.’ If anyone who has a tattoo that seamlessly illustrates their character, then it has to be Mike Tyson with his infamous face tattoo.
#6: Stephon Marbury
Marbury’s choice might not be as bold and wild as Tyson’s, but it is still at a place and will be forever out on display. Well, brand tattoos are always debatable, but at least, Marbury selected a logo of his brand – ‘Starbury.’
As far as head tattoos are concerned, this tattoo is far more subtle than most, but it is still an out-of-the-box choice by the former NBA point guard.
#7: Chris Andersen
Next up, our very own ‘Birdman.’ Anderson seems more like a human coloring book than a basketball player, as the Miami Heat athlete is well-covered from head to toe in bold, prominent, colorful tattoos.
You could spend minutes, hours, and days gazing at his tattoos as there are plenty of them, but his most noticeable tattoo is ‘FREE BIRD’ inscribed right across his neck. This is inked in green, blue, orange, and purple, which is a striking palette in itself. A colorful neck tattoo might not be for everyone to pull, but as they say, ‘this bird you cannot change.’
#8: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar’s tattoo is one-of-its-kind, and this is mostly due to its placement. The wrestler has an artwork of a sword inked on his torso, with the handle beginning right above his belly, and then the sword’s blade going in between his pecs and his neck!
It is, undoubtedly, one of the strangest athlete tattoos out there. Due to its position and design, it has also successfully become a flaming hot topic of discussion among the wrestling fanatics.
#9: Marquis Daniels
Marquis Daniels, Sacramento King’s guard, might have made some not-so-smart decisions regarding art, but luckily, this tattoo isn’t one of them. Daniels has inked a ‘Map of the State of Florida’ with city names and advertised a ‘407’ area code at the lower half of his back.
It’s interesting to notice how athletes pay tribute to their stamping grounds by getting their area codes tattooed. I guess it never hurts to have a slight reminder about your roots, right?
#10: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
I have to admit that this is, by far, the coolest tribal tattoo ever supported by an athlete. Zlatan, the striker for AC Milan, captain of the Sweden National Team, is genuinely at the top of the tattoo game with tribal markings right across his shoulders and biceps!
Although I don’t know a lot about where the tribal markings hold origin, it’s known to represent Ibrahimovic’s family. Additionally, he has his sons’ names and the birth dates of his family members linked on other parts of his body, providing more purpose to just decorative tribal markings.
So, that’s all, folks. Now we know tattoos and athletes go together!
These sets of athletes genuinely have the guts to put forward the boldest, craziest tattoos the tattoo industry has ever seen, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
So, if you are a sports fanatic looking out for inspiration, don’t hesitate to draw an idea (or two) from these strong personalities. If you’re an artist, I hope these few artworks helped you get your creative juices flowing.
If you’re a tattoo studio owner, please feel free to conclude that there’s a massive growth opportunity among athletes awaiting you. And when that happens, don’t shy away from making it even bigger and better with a bold collection of designs, a team of artists, collection of digital tattoo consent form templates and a tattoo studio software to manage your employees and customers!
Author Bio: Ashley Johnson drives content strategy at TattooPro.io, a cutting-edge cloud-based software solution for tattoo studios. She’s inspired by the hustle of the artists to create more.