The Most Tattooed Athletes

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIFebruary 11, 2012

The Most Tattooed Athletes

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    Athletes get tattoos for a number of reasons: to have a sense of belonging, to alter their public image, to feel powerful, to bring good luck or ward off bad luck, to honor family, to honor their team, to honor their hometown, to honor God, to remind themselves of hard times or humble beginnings or just to see how nifty the tats will look pixelated in the latest version of NBA 2K.

    Some athletes stop at one or two.

    Some have up to a dozen. 

    Others, well, they fill up the canvas.

    Click on to see some of the most-inked skins in the sports world.

Honorable Mention: Anastasia Davydova

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    Hails from: Moscow, Russia

    Sport: Synchronized swimming

    Ink coverage: Light--about 12 butterflies cascading down her back from the left shoulder to the right butt cheek

    Sure, your average NBA player has triple the ink she has, but Davydova is worth an honorable mention because so few swimmers have more than the obligatory dolphin on the ankle.

Honorable Mention: Mitchell Johnson

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    Hails from: Queensland, Australia

    Sport: Cricket

    Ink Coverage: Light, full sleeve, large wildcat on torso

    Mitchell's latest tattoo became controversial; not that fans objected to the pattern—it's just that they feel inking gone awry shouldn't cause star players to miss games.

35. Josh Hamilton

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    Hails from: Raleigh, North Carolina

    Sport: Baseball

    Ink coverage: Light-moderate, 26 tattoos in all, spread out over chest, arms, legs

    His images include the word "hammer," a baseball, blue flames, devils, Jesus and tribal signs.

    Regarding the devil tattoos he says: "I really regret these. They're a real hard reminder."

34. Courtney Lawes

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    Hails from: Hackney, England

    Sport: Rugby

    Ink coverage: Light moderate, two full sleeves, quote on hip

    His hip tattoo reads: "The best of times is now." 

33. Allen Iverson

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    Hails from: Virginia, USA

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate

    In his own words: "I got one that says 'FEAR NO ONE,' a screaming skull with a red line through it--'cause you'll never catch me looking scared." 

    For a peek at and insight into the meanings of several of his tattoos, click here.

    (You know you are in for an inky ride when Iverson is ranked so low on this list.)

32. Digby Ioane

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    Hails from: Wellington, New Zealand

    Sport: Rugby

    Ink coverage: Moderate, a full sleeve, a pair of wings across his back, several smaller tats

    For some close-ups of his body art, check out this link.

31. Mike Tyson

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    Hails from: Brooklyn, NY

    Sport: Boxing

    Ink coverage: Moderate

    Say what? Tyson near the bottom too? 

    In truth, he'd be off the list if it weren't for the facial tat.

    Because of their visibility and shock value, all facial real estate counts double on this list.

    His facial tattoo got plenty of media face time in 2011 with the release of The Hangover 2 and tattoo artist Victor Whitmill's lawsuit.

    Among Tyson's other tats are portraits of Mao Zedong, Che Guevara, Arthur Ashe and ex-wife Monica Turner.

30. Matt Barnes

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    Hails from: Santa Clara, California

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate, several arm tattoos, large neck tattoos, three large chest tattoos, full stomach, large banner across top of back, leg tattoos

    To check out his back tats, click here.

    Barnes got the large angel on his stomach to honor the memory of his mother who died of lung cancer in 2007.

29. Rey Mysterio

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    Hails from: Chula Vista, California

    Sport: Pro wrestling

    Ink coverage: Moderate, several large tattoos on torso and arms, full back tattoo

    For a slideshow of his tattoos and some insight to their significance, click here.

28. Raul Meireles

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    Hails from: Porto, Portugal

    Sport: Soccer

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two full sleeves, full back, back of neck

    Meireles' dragon tattoo was widely considered one of the coolest tats in soccer, until Daniel Agger upstaged him with an intricate viking graveyard design down the length of his back.

27. Kenyon Martin

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    Hails from: Saginaw, Michigan

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate, one near-complete sleeve, multiple other arm tattoos, some neck tattoos, large back tattoo, some chest tattoos

    Martin famously had an impression of girlfriend Trina's lips tattooed on his neck, and then equally famously had it covered up to resemble some sort of mutant crown after the breakup.

26. Undertaker

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    Hails from: Houston, Texas

    Sport: Pro wrestling

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two full sleeves, wife's name on front of neck, daughters' names on either side of his neck, fighting skeleton on back of neck, stomach banner that reads "B.S.K Pride" (stands for Bone Street Krewe)

    His left arm has a fantastical theme with castles, wizards, etc.

25. David Beckham

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    Hails from: London, England

    Sport: Soccer

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two sleeves, partial back, back of neck, partial midriff, partial torso

    Among his tattoos are a line of Chinese characters running down the side of his torso. The characters translate to: "Death and life have determined appointments; riches and honors depend upon heaven."

24. CC Sabathia

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    Hails from: Vallejo, California

    Sport: Baseball

    Ink coverage: Moderate, one full sleeve, large shoulder-to-shoulder back tattoo

23. Shaquille O'Neal

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    Hails from: Newark, New Jersey

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate, multiple arm, shoulder, chest

    While Shaq may not seem to have all that much ink, you have to remember, there is a whole lot of canvas there.

    Quote from Shaq regarding his tats: 

    "First of all, I got my tattoos because I was allowed to get them. You better believe I asked my mom first. And she told me I could get the tattoos, but I had to keep it corporate. See, she thought that when I was done playing ball, no one would give me a job if I was covered with tattoos."

22. Aaron Hernandez

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    Hails from: Bristol, Connecticut

    Sport: Football

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two full sleeves, some hands

    Up his left forearm is a quote composed of 10 two-letter words: "If it is to be, it is up to me."

    It was a favorite saying of his late father. 

21. Natasha Kai

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    Hails from: Hawaii, USA

    Sport: Soccer

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two full sleeves, various torso, back, legs, feet tattoos

    According to Inked magazine: "She has two turtles indigenous to the island on her back, a Polynesian tattoo sleeve on her right arm, and the [Hawaiian] state flower, the hibiscus, on her right shoulder." 

    She also has three stars on the back of her neck, the names of her family members and lyrics.

20. LeBron James

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    Hails from: Akron, Ohio

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate, large banner across top of back, multiple arm and shoulder tattoos, word tattooed on each leg

    Check out this web page for a visual time line of King James' body art.

19. Robert Swift

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    Hails from: Bakersfield, California

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two full sleeves, some chest work, smaller tattoos on legs and hands

    Among the inked patterns on his arms are the words "Anything is possible" and "Just believe."

18. Randy Orton

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    Hails from: Knoxville, Tennessee

    Sport: Pro wrestling

    Ink coverage: Moderate, two full sleeves and a pattern across the top of his back

    Among the work on his sleeves, he has a bible verse on the back of one arm and a red rose with his daughter's birthdate in Roman numerals on the opposite forearm. 

    According to an article on the WWE website, one of Orton's arm tattoos started as the letters USMC (United States Marine Corps).

    When Orton received a dishonorable discharge from the Corps, he had the letters covered up.

17. Andrei Kirilenko

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    Hails from: Izhevsk, Russia

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate

    The full-back tattoo caused quite a media stir when it first came to light.

    The image is some type of armored warrior astride a fearsome winged beast.

    When interviewed about the art by the Salt Lake Tribune, Kirilenko said, "If I feel like I want [a tattoo], I get one. It's really strange that it gets so much attention. … Ninety-nine percent of players have tattoos."

16. Wilson Chandler

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    Hails from: Benton Harbor, Michigan

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, several arm tattoos, hand tattoo, full back

    Among the inked words on his body are the following sayings: "Against all odds" (left forearm), "Death before dishonor" (right forearm), "No worse luck" (hand).

    On his back is the X-Men villain Juggernaut with the word "Unstoppable."

15. CM Punk

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    Hails from: Chicago, Illinois

    Sport: Pro wrestling

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, two full sleeves, upper chest, left hand, banner across stomach, back of neck

    Regarding his Pepsi logo tattoo, he says: "No matter how many people think the Pepsi logo is stupid, it means a lot to me; it represents me being drug free."

14. Jeff Monson

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    Hails from: St. Paul, Minnesota

    Sport: Mixed martial arts

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, two full sleeves, most of stomach, half of chest, partial neck, most of back

    He says he has three types of tattoos: (1) meaningful ones, including his kids' names, a handprint of his kid, (2) political ones and (3) fun ones..."just because I'm pretty white and they stand out good."

13. Kevin Durant

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    Hails from: Washington, D.C.

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, most of chest and stomach, full back

    Durant's inking is a bit unusual in that it's all back- and torso-based, none on the extremities. As a result, it's easy to cover up his body art.

    For a while it was even commonly believed that he had no tattoos at all.

12. Daniel Agger

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    Hails from: Hvidovre, Denmark

    Sport: Soccer

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, one full sleeve, one partial sleeve, very full back, siblings' names on his chest

    Across the top of his back, the following Latin proverb is inked: "Mors Certa, Hora Incerta."

    It means: "Death is certain, its hour is not."

    For a guide to the graves and viking countenances on his back, click here.

11. Mike Nickels

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    Hails from: Ocala, Florida

    Sport: Mixed martial arts

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, two partial sleeves, full back, full chest, full neck

    For a view of his frontal tattoos, click here.

10. Gilbert Arenas

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    Hails from: Tampa, Florida

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy, full chest and stomach, full back, some fingers

    His full-back tattoo is a family tree and reads "Family is heaven in a heartless world."

    His finger tattoos are a tribute to Barack Obama.

9. Evangelista and Cristiane Santos

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    Hail from: Mato Grosso, Brazil (Evangelista) and Paraná, Brazil (Cristiane)

    Sport: Mixed Martial Arts

    Ink coverage: Moderate-heavy (Evangelista), light-moderate (Cristiane)

    Evangelista has a full sleeve, a partial sleeve, full back, partial chest, partial torso, partial neck and back of head.

    Among his designs are portraits of Mike Tyson and Che Guevara

    Cristiane has a large back tattoo, forearm tattoos and a midriff tattoo.

8. J.R. Smith

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    Hails from: Freehold, New Jersey

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Heavy, chest, neck and arms are almost fully covered

    Among his later ink acquisitions is a rainbow-colored "swish" under his chin, just at the top of his neck. 

7. Monta Ellis

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    Hails from: Jackson, Mississippi

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Heavy

    According to a USA Today article:

    Images of his son and wife highlight a family tree that covers Ellis' chest, entire back and both arms. He's getting his parents and grandparents put on each rib cage this summer, which will fill in the only remaining spots.

6. Dennis Rodman

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    Hails from: Trenton, New Jersey

    Sport: Basketball, pro wrestling

    Ink coverage: Heavy, most of torso, arms and back

    Rodman and his tattoos became so iconic that when an apparel company produced a T-shirt with the likenesses of Rodman's tattoos in their correct anatomical positions, the basketball star filed a court injunction.

    And won.

5. Popek Rak

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    Hails from: Legnica, Poland

    Sport: Mixed martial arts

    Ink coverage: Ultra-heavy, pretty much his entire torso, arms and back

    Check out his body art in this rap video.

4. David Clinger

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    Hails from: Los Angeles, California

    Sport: Cycling

    Ink coverage: Ultra-heavy, full face, large neck tattoo

    Before Clinger fell out of the news, he was in the process of having the facial markings removed.

3. Chris Andersen

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    Hails from: Long Beach, California

    Sport: Basketball

    Ink coverage: Ultra-heavy, two full sleeves, full chest, full neck, full throat, full shoulders, partial hands, partial back

    For a video with close-ups of the art, plus hilarious quotes from the Birdman, click here.

    For his "Ink Not Mink" PETA commercial, click here.

    Best quote (when asked about the blue bird tat under his neck): "That's my thunderbird, man. The King-Thundabird! When I dunk, I bring the thunda."

2. Djibril Cissé

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    Hails from: Arles, France

    Sport: Soccer

    Ink coverage: Ultra-heavy, full torso, full sleeves, large back tattoo, multiple leg tattoos, partial head

    For a video of Cissé getting some new ink, click here.

1. Justin Miller

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    Hails from: Torrance, California

    Sport: Baseball

    Ink coverage: Insanely Heavy

    According to the SF Weekly Blog, he's marked up fully from toe to neck, and would go higher if it wouldn't affect his career (and displease his wife).

    He even has a tattoo on the inside of his lip.

    Best quote regarding his tattoos: "I woke up one day and said, 'Oh crap, I've got a lot of clowns.'"