I once studied cultural norms, a topic about how as society changes what was once considered abnormal or normal changes too. One cultural norm that is now accepted by society is tattoos as they are no longer seen as taboo. Now, it seems the entire world is tatted up, tatted down, and tatted all around. It doesn't matter where a person comes from, where they've been, where they're going, or what they do. Athletes are probably more tatted than any other profession, including baristas and rock stars. During the on or off season they parade to the parlor.
The fever has also spread through the minor leagues and colleges. Athletes showing off their ink seemed to explode at the turn of the century, when guys like Allen Iverson and Dennis Rodman graced the hard wood. Though basketball players appear to show off their body art the most, athletes in MMA, Soccer, Football, Hockey, Baseball, and even the Olympic athletes fully sport tattoos. In the eyes of the ink, everyone is equal.
Many athletes' "tats" provide inspiration, solace, remembrance, or just creative fun. Though many players have common designs or sayings, others have unique, creative symbols, patterns, and drawings. Some include colors and others keep the ink dark. It even seems like the paintings have become a competition and athletes try to stand out and out do each other.
Any popular trend often becomes overdone, and with excess and imitation comes mistakes. Of course this compilation is subjective and open to debate, and there are a whole lot of athletes not on this list that deserve to be. So check em' out because these tatts are here to stay unless these athletes buy a whole lot of "White Out."
15 Lionel Messi
Just because a player makes few mistakes on the field and is a generational talent, doesn't mean they don't make mistakes on the surface of their body. At an astonishing 5'6" and 150 pounds (we all should look in the mirror), the star of Barcelona is a killer on the field. At age 13, he was already blossoming and made his debut in 2004. Then, as a 17-year-old, he soared and established himself as a key player for the Barcelona club. From there, he was off and running and stole the imagination of the soccer world. He became an international sensation an kids everywhere were sporting his jersey. Yet, somewhere along the way, no one set him straight in the school of art. Who is in his posse and who does he run with? He is surrounded by some of the most remarkable artists and architects in history.
Someone should have stressed to him to NEVER get tattoos of a lover's lips anywhere on his body and especially below the belt line. I get how the idea can sound fun and sentimental in the moment, but how does anyone not see the possible consequences. Only more bad than good can come from this, and even if he couldn't fathom his life without her, he definitely won't now.
14 Messi #2
I think Messi should hire me as his personal Tattoo Agent and Advisor. Not only would I have prevented the lips fiasco, but I'd NEVER let him or anyone get a tatt of a living person. Thiago, his oldest son, was born in 2012 and it was no doubt a watershed moment. So, what you do is spend every moment with your child, post pictures, and write a diary. Read him every Dr. Seuss book, "The Little Engine That Could," and play him all the music YOU THINK he should hear and listen too before his friends persuade him "it sucks." What you don't do is get a tattoo, especially a cheap one, and most especially of all, not one of a babies fingers that make him look like E.T. Messi must have seen how bad it looked, so he hit the drawing board and the image evolved.
He added wings, a soccer ball, spirals, hearts, and finally, the whole thing was such a mess he blackened it all out.
Currently, he's sporting this Messi Mess, a black sweat sock that covers it all. I'm actually thankful now, as I've invested in black knee socks in case the look catches on. Oh, and by the way, can you believe he is only 5'6" and less than a buck fifty?
13 Chris "Birdman" Andersen
The 6-foot-10 behemoth is one of the toughest calls I've ever had to make. How can anyone diss on a man who made it pro after going to that factory of pro gamers called Blinn College? Doesn't he deserve R-E-S-P-E-C-T for cutting his teeth in the Chinese Leagues and American Leagues and scratching his way onto the Nuggets? Finally, anyone born in the era of bubble letters and tagging has got to respect the art work. Dunking bulldogs, soaring eagles, and fire and feathers done well is cool and colorful. The artwork is flowing, detailed, and rich. Whoever painted this is a master and should get kickbacks and meet "Flasher," "Deadhead," and Basquiat. Bring back Run DMC, Cube, The Beasties, and long live NWA. So then what makes these tattoos questionable? The issue is it's, well, Chris Andersen.
If he was a rock star or at least very talented then the knucklehead look, the ridiculous hat, and wanna-be attitude could fly. Instead, the awesome old school hip hop look and artistry loses its punch and pop. But maybe, years from now, when the color is faded and the lines sag, he can make a come back like Vanilla Ice.
12 Prince Fielder
Shout out to the man they call Uncle Phil (seriously!). Prince, and his dad, Cecil, had some seriously sweet cuts and did some damage to baseballs. But Prince, also had a few tats that do a little damage to the eyes, and they've got nothing to do with the bod. Prince rocks it all with the pose and confidence. He has had an interesting life and has tattoos all over his body to mark his memories. The 33-year-old from California had a sweet swing and could drive the ball with brutal force. He had a career high 50 homers in 2007 and has 319 dingers over the last 11 seasons. Always a big, powerful man, Prince has his name tatted on his neck in Japanese and along his fingers in English. But the thing is about tattoos is sometimes too much is simply too much.
The right shoulder is awesome, but what the heck has he got going on his right buttock and side? Fielder really went all out on the designs, but somebody really should've been around to tell him when to stop. It's like this. After 6 All Star games, 3 Silver Slugger Awards, a Hank Aaron ward, and in the swan song of a career you hit 8 home runs and 44 RBI, you retire. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and was an All Star in 6 of his 10 seasons.
11 Vanessa Ferrari
This whole image, design, and color is questionable, and your last name is Ferrari! I have all the respect in the world for Olympians and the gymnasts are unbelievable athletes with spectacular strength, balance, coordination, and concentration. Making the Olympics is such an incredible achievement that this... thingie on the back of her neck is just wrong. Now don't get me wrong. I don't need a gold medal tatted on one of the greatest Italian gymnast's chest but come on.
How about the rings on the wrist, shoulder, or anywhere she or anyone can at least see it?
And on second thought, why not have a gold medal design somewhere or one of the rings colored in? Vanessa has won every kind of medal, 13 Gold, and ruptured her Achilles. So why not get an anklet of medals? I'm not necessarily suggesting for her to brag, but if she's going to do it then do it right. She was the 2006 World Champ, and represented Italy in the Summer Olympics in 2008, 2012, and 2016. She's only 27 years old and overcame such serious injuries that if she's going to ink herself, she could have thought of something unique.
10 Mike Scott
Boy is this deserving for a spot on the questionable side. Let's face it, shameful would even work. And the thing is, he was born in the Chesapeake Bay area so it's not like he wasn't surrounded by progressive, hip ideas. He also played for Atlanta which has a got a cool music and arts scene which had to rub off on him. So what lead the hoops man to seriously ink emojis bouncing around like basketballs? Emojis?! The little characters teenagers or love torn adults spot throughout their texts or emails? Scott is a power forward in the NBA and he had every emoji in a free "app" inked on his arms. That is just wrong. Even gremlins, minions, or pop ups would be better. Well, this too shall pass, and maybe one day he'll win a championship, an MVP, and get these emojis covered up. Maybe he'll tweet me while he's at a tattoo parlor, spinning a basketball on his finger, and say he is LMAO.
In any event, his arms are just a mess and let's hope good things happen and he changes his mind. It would stink to wake up, middle aged or in his senior years, and really regret the work he got done. This past season, though, Scott was traded to his hometown Washington Wizards. It seems the change is doing him good, so here's to him, "Dilly Dilly."
9 Brock Lesnar
When you hear the words Brock Lesnar and tattoo, you probably think of the huge sword that goes down his chest that looks like a sword. However did you ever know one of the fiercest, meanest, men in the world has a tattoo on his lower back. Seriously, a stamp on a former UFC and wrestling Heavyweight Champion?
At the 2015 Royal Rumble, Lesnar had John Cena in a kimura lock. That's when the camera shot and caught the threatening, harrowing tatt that read: "Kill 'Em All".
Whoever sold this idea on the man who broke his neck in the ring, a man who is 6'3" and 265 pounds, and had one of the most ruthless ground and pounds in the octagon is a master of sales.
It's either that, or this guy has something on Brock that is locked away in Fort Knox. Heck, I'd be terrified to even go anywhere near that area, let alone focus, concentrate, and hold an instrument of pain and precision. This is one of those cases though where no one can really call Lesnar out on it in person because well... Would you?! Did you ever see what Brock did to Frank Mir, Randy Couture, and Heath Herring? Furthermore, did you ever see the pain he took in his losses?
8 Michael Beasley
In a culture where everyone tries to outdo each other, it would have been a good idea for "The Beas" to talk to someone like Brian Bosworth, or "The Boz." The Beas, a 28-year-old from Maryland, was a star at an early age. He actually played for 6 different High Schools before choosing Kansas State. He also dominated at college and where he had 3, 40 point games. Beasley seemed like a sure NBA star, and he was taken with the 2nd overall pick in 2008. However, he never lived up to the hype on the court. He played for five NBA teams, the Heat three times, all across Asia, Minnesota, Phoenix, Houston, Milwaukee, and the Knicks. But heck, if I had all those experiences and people telling me "I was all that," I too might tat my own nick name on my back and title myself as the savior.
I was never a fan of athletes inking their own last name on their back for it just seams boring. On the positive side, it was suggested "The Beas" may have inspired LBJ to get "Chosen 1" inked on his back.
The most questionable aspect of the tattoo is the art.
The wings look ripped and torn apart at the joint as if attacked in a speed eating contest. Maybe, as his career looks to get jump started, he could add the birds body to show his rebirth. We all are humbled in life, whether by our own design or others, and come out better for it, like "The Boz."
7 DeShawn Stevenson
So this is a good example of taking your time to figure things out. Stevenson, who went to Washington Union High School in Fresno, California, turned down the University of Kansas to jump directly to the NBA. The Utah Jazz selected him in the 1st round, 23rd overall. He played a whopping 13 seasons in the NBA for the Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, and Atlanta Hawks. He won a championship with Dallas in 2011, but was also known for having a "beef" with LeBron and various teammates. Seriously, I thought "beefs" ended in high school.
Anyway, Stevenson actually had an ATM at his house which was one symbol he adorned his body with. Did he tattoo the password on his body also? He also really wanted to honor Abraham Lincoln for his stance against slavery, in which case no one would bat an eye.
But after that, the five dollar bill design was formed and the entire concept just took on a different meaning. Instead, he looks like a huge PEZ doll. The 6'5" defensive minded shooting guard/ small forward retired in 2016. He now hits the hardwood and plays in the Big 3, the wild 3 on 3 basketball game created by perhaps the greatest vocalist in rap, Ice Cube.
6 Larry Sanders
In 9th grade, Larry was 6'1" and not a basketball player. Then, coach Rodriguez from their school in Florida, noticed him and asked him to play. He started growing 2 inches a year, put up points, and stated to attract attention. He became an All American and caught the eyes of Virginia Commonwealth University where he'd play for 3 seasons. He'd forego his Senior year, and was a 1st round, 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. But he just wasn't ready and should have found a vet to show him the ropes. "Recieve" is an odd word to have tatted on your arm and at the very least it's gotta be spelled right.
It's really a simple rule: "I before E except after C." I mean, why spell it wrong? What an strange word choice, even if you are reading an Andre Dubus short story.
Actually, in that sense it could be interesting but what's the meaning behind it? Receive or Recieve what? From who? But kids today can't own up to much. Instead, he tweets "Ummmmmmmm... ain't worried bout nuthin" Of course there is nuthin to worry about. Being a millionaire, in the NBA, and all the glam that comes with it should be enough to shake anything off. So unless he doesn't read the fine print or blow all his money, he'll have the last laugh.
5 Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin is now 40 years old, and it would have been a good idea for Messi to talk to him about "The Lip" tattoo. Kenyon was hanging out with his then-girlfriend, Trina, and got her lips inked on his neck. They were together for a few years, but the relationship ended. Now, Martin and everyone he meets will be reminded of who- was where. Still, the Michigan native has lived a pretty understated life. As a child, he stuttered and attended multiple schools. He went to the University of Cincinnati and helped make those Bearcats a prominent basketball program. His #4 was retired, and the New Jersey Nets selected him with the number 1 overall pick in 2000.
Ultimately, his hoops career would be underwhelming, but he did play for New Jersey, Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, New York, Milwaukee, and Asia. But his philanthropic career is most impressive.
Since retiring, he started The Kenyon Martin Foundation for families in need and without a father figure. He supports The Children's Museum of Denver, the Ludacris Foundation Helping Youth Help Themselves initiative, SafeHaven of Tarrant County domestic violence shelter for women, and the not for profit Stuttering Foundation of America.
4 Andrei Kirilenko
Kirilenko has many more distinctions than this... whatever it is, etched from his shoulders to his lower back. On one hand, it's got some kind of backside of a dragon, an alligator's tail, and a flag, or are those kids' floaties? So now onto the man who has to worry about wearing this... water color like smear. The 6'9" Russkie started paying basketball in the Russian Super Leagues at 15 years old. He won the MVP, and his name and game drew interest from the NBA. Kirilenko rolled everyone's imagination into "21" as the Utah Jazz bit and selected him in the first with the 24th pick. He had some initial success and made the All Rookie Team, the All Defensive Team, and the 2004 All Star game. When the lockout hit, he stayed active and played in Moscow.
While in Russia, he played with National Team, won the Euro Basket title, MVP, Player of the Year, and earned a... well... controversial nickname. Let's just be thankful he didn't get a tattoo of it, or maybe he did, and it's worked in somewhere in the mess on his back.
His NBA career ended while playing for Brooklyn in 20015 after only 7 games and he is married and has a child.
3 Kyle Davis
As a Senior at Dayton, the Chicago born basketballer played in 30 games for and started in 21. He was a defensive star and named the A-10 Sixth man of the year. He averaged 1.6 steals per game, 27.7 minutes, and scored in double digits 12 times. He recorded a career high 18 points against Saint Joseph's by shooting 8-9 from the field and swiping 4 steals.
He crushed it during his final year averaging 8.1 pts, 3.8 rebs , and 2.6 asst, but he went un-selected in the draft. Instead, he, along with 15 others, was named to the NBA G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Now, it's important to realize this is the reality for so many student athletes and Kyle deserves the utmost respect.
He earned his degree, played the game, and will experience more and learn more than most people ever will. One lesson I wish he learned was about advertising. Why spread the word about the Sox, Nike, or the Bulls unless they are going to draft you or pay you? I get that people are fans and want to show off their loyalty, but if I own the Pistons, and I have the last pick, guess who I'm not taking. And Nike? Ever here about ADIDAS or REEBOK? An important lesson to learn is all cash is more cash than cash you got.
2 Anthony Smith
I love dudes like this. Smith was born in tiny Hubbard, Ohio, where he played running back and safety and wore number three in High School. Smith also played basketball, baseball, ran track and field, and when his dominance on the gridiron took over there was no denying he was special. Syracuse University took notice, and the man was on his way to become third in the Orangemen's history with 14 interceptions. He also broke the school's record with six blocked kicks and returned two for pay dirt. Even as a freshman, he had a whopping 71 tackles. When the NFL draft came, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the 3rd round with the 83rd pick in 2006. He'd go on to have an up and down career. While playing with Pittsburgh, he guaranteed a victory against the undefeated New England Patriots and got torched in a 3-14 loss.He'd also play for Green Bay, Tennessee, Jacksonville, wear 25, 26, 27, 36, win a Super Bowl with Pittsburgh and Green Bay, and join a rap group.
So with all these amazing accomplishments, why, why would he get this awful tattoo on his back? Come on Anthony. Crooked Straws and a melted skull when you kicked butt across Hubbard, Syracuse, won 2 rings, and even lost a guarantee?
1 Chris Bosh
Chris can look back at his career on the court and feel pretty darn proud. Born in Dallas, Texas, he grew up around the game playing with his brother, at his dad's gym, and a play ground near his grand mom's house. He led Lincoln High School to an incredible 40- 0 record and USA National Championship. He went to Georgia Tech, and after one season he went pro, joining a historic draft class which included Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. Bosh was taken 4th overall by the Toronto Raptors, and though he showed signs of greatness management was a mess. He joined the Heat in 2010, won 2 NBA titles, and is still "active" in the twilight of his career. He's also actively working on his tattoos, which brings us to this image.
The fact that he's 6'11 provides a huge canvas, so the right back, with blues notes hanging from branches is surely nice. Everyone loves an eagle, don't they? So, that leaves... wait, is that Lil' Kim biting a skull as if it was an apple? No he didn't! You bet she wasn't too happy when she saw this. She denied any reason for this depiction and it makes you wonder what he was thinking about. If he was crushing, there has to be a more romantic, subtle, sweeter, endearing way to seek her attention!