Kenny Vaccaro's Tattoos Speak Volumes About Driven 2013 NFL Draft Prospect

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterApril 25, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Kenny Vaccaro of Texas works out during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Kenny Vaccaro is not defined by his tattoos, but that doesn't mean each one is devoid of something truly special. 

The 2013 NFL draft will see a great many athletes in the spotlight, many of them with grand ink jobs. Tyrann Mathieu, Dee Milliner and Manti Te'o are just a couple who are renowned for their tats. 

Vaccaro is among those who tried to make each session in the tattoo parlor mean something. A 2011 report on went in depth into the care the safety takes in deciding what art he will don next. 

A lot of guys get tattoos just to have ink on them, but I can explain everything on my body. I wait until I get a truly great idea and have had a plan for everything I wanted to get.

The majority of my tattoos are Christian and family based. My first one I got when I was 17 years old [on my upper right arm] for my father who passed away two years before. It is a cross with the words `I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.'

For some odd reason, there is still a stigma that comes with athletes who wear tattoos. A misguided column about Colin Kaepernick and a supposed "thug" culture was written by AOL Fanhouse's David Whitley just last November. 

Vaccaro is just one example of how expansive tattoos can signal the best in a person. Most of his ink is dedicated to either religion or his family, which he credits for support and guidance.

It's a family that raised a young man who thought long and hard but decided to stay at Texas one more year to perfect his skills before turning pro, even as he awaited the birth of his son. 

The Daily Texan Online touched upon this very sacrifice last November. 

Money, fame and security awaited him had he gone pro. But he stayed in Austin and put on a burnt orange jersey for one more year. Though this year’s defense didn’t live up to its high expectations, he doesn’t regret his choice.

“Honestly, I played way better than I played last year,” Vaccaro said before Texas’ loss to TCU. “People might not know it, but Coach Akina sat me down and said I’m having as good a year as he’s seen, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

The fans appreciate a student who recognized he was not yet ready to take an enormous leap. It's that kind of self-sacrifice that may very well make him a mainstay in the NFL. The Texas standout is looking more and more like a first-round lock for teams with needs at safety. 

The tattoos will get a great deal of media attention, as they do with similar athletes. For Vaccaro, we might want to look far closer. Each one was carefully selected by a driven athlete with a very firm grasp on the future.  

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