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2008 Inked All Stars

AMARE STOUDEMIRE

PHOENIX SUNS
INKED: What was your first tattoo?

STOUDEMIRE: My first tattoo [says] “STAT.” It’s part of my last name. A lot of people say “Statemire.” It’s kind of an abbreviation of Stoudemire. I was actually 16.

Where do your ideas come from?

A couple of them I got from a few dreams. I had a dream about [a tattoo that says] “knowing is knowledge and knowledge is power.” I can’t remember the exact dream, but in that dream some wise man said that quote. I woke up and was like, “Man, that was a pretty strong little statement.” I never heard it that way. So I kind of broke it down to see if it was true. If you know something, you have knowledge. And if you have the knowledge of something,then you have the power to know what you’re talking about.

So which one is your favorite?

I have a tattoo of a lamppost, like on a street corner. You know how [some lampposts] say Broadway and Third Ave. on the corner? I have a light post with signs for all the cities I grew up in through my childhood. My childhood story is amazing. I’ve got all my childhood cities on my arm, looking as if they’re streets. I have New York, Orlando, Durham. All these cities I lived in as a kid. It’s seven signs. But I’ve got two more that I lived in as a kid, so I’m missing two.

What do your other tattoos mean?

All my tattoos mean something to me. They represent poverty. I’ve got a tattoo that says “Poverty/Prophecy,” and both of those words are off the same P. What that means is when you are in poverty and you’re praying for something better, to make it to the NBA or to become a professional skateboarder, you’re pretty much prophesizing.

You still skateboarding?

I can skate a little bit still, but I grew up to be 6’10″. A lot of my friends who I haven’t seen in a long time probably wouldn’t believe it, but I grew to be 6 foot 10 inch and my skateboard skills slowly evaporated. I can still ride a little bit, though.

DARREN McCARTY

DETROIT RED WINGS
INKED: After 11 years with the Detroit Red Wings, you were playing in the minors during the first half of the ’07 season when Detroit called you back, and the team went on to win the Stanley Cup. How did it feel to go from being out of hockey to winning a championship in six months?

MCCARTY: It was a dream come true. To be able to come back to this team, to be able to come back to this city and play and help win a championship. It’s a Hollywood script.

You’ve won four Stanely Cups. Did you consider getting tattoos to mark them?

My thing with tattoos is, there has to be some meaning to it. I can’t just get a Tasmanian Devil. I had my son in ’96 and we won the cup in ’97 and ’98 and I thought about getting a cup tattoo or something like that. But that wasn’t me. Then I met a military guy. He started me off with a little band, because I wanted to put the initials of my kids in there. Just a half-band on my right arm, but it meant something. Then my dad passed away, and my grandfather passed away and I wanted to remember that stuff. I used to wear this cross around my neck all the time, and I used to wear my grandfather’s wedding ring around my neck on my chain. So a friend suggested we emulate the cross and the chain I used to wear with the wedding ring wrapped around it. My grandfather’s nickname was Jiggs, so I had Jiggs put in there, and then my stepdad passed away, so I incorporated his initials into that. That’s my left arm. My left arm is my tribute arm to people who have passed away and my right arm is my legacy arm.

It sounds deeply personal.

It’s very personal. One of my best friends, he was a bass player in a band, died suddenly at age 40. His saying all the time was “It’s all about rock.” So I got that on my left forearm in tribute to him. I have a couple of other pieces, a couple of dog paws for our dogs who have passed away and a cherry-oak piano for my grandmother, because she used to play that. When people ask me about my tattoos, I say, “You want to be on my right arm. You don’t want to be on my left arm.”

TYLER JOHNSON

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
INKED: You’ve had to sit out this season with an injury. How tempted have you been to get some new ink while you’re rehabbing?

JOHNSON: I’ve been in for about 30 hours. It’s almost like therapy. I’m going through a lot missing this whole season. It’s tough to watch my team day in and day out, knowing in the back of my mind that I’m not going to be able to go out there and play. It just makes me really want to get back, because I love doing it.

What was your first tattoo?

The first one I got was at the Ink House in Ventura. It was like a horse-stallion type of thing. I ended up getting that covered up. I was 18 and in high school, and me and my buddy got an Italian stallion, seeing as how we were both Italian. It was funny, but I guess it wore off as I got older. My second tattoo, I had two nautical stars on the outside of my arms, one blue and one red on each bicep. I got those in Hawaii when I was playing in the Alaska league. We flew up to Hawaii for a couple of games, and I got them out there.

Alaska baseball? What was that like?

Dude, it is amazing. Bald eagles flying over your head in the middle of the game, constant fishing throughout the day. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out there, but it’s just amazing. It’s a different league. It’s for college guys looking to get a head start in front of scouts. I did well out there, and that’s what got me in Major League Baseball.
You have several religious-themed tattoos.

I’m a Catholic, and I had my communion and confirmation and am really interested in heaven and hell. I wanted a heaven and hell theme on my arm. The hell part starts on my wrist and it’s fire and symbols of heaven and hell. It swirls up into a big rosary and a tree of life. People out here in Missouri go, “Oh my God, who did you’re tattoos?” His name is Jim Hayek. He works out of his garage.

How much tattoo talk goes on in the locker room?

I don’t know if I should be telling you this, but my manager, Tony LaRussa, has a tattoo. I guess he made a bet with his daughters and his wife where, if we won the World Series, he would either get his ear pierced or a tattoo. After we won the World Series, he got a cool tribal thing on his arm. He called me into his office during spring training and told me the whole story and said, “Check it out.” He pulled up his shirt and had this badass half-sleeve. I was amazed. He’s such an awesome manager, I just didn’t think he would have time to get a tattoo with all the stuff he has going on.

SHAWN MERRIMAN

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
INKED: We heard you were pretty young when you got your first tattoo. What’s the story?

MERRIMAN: I think I was 14 when I got my first tattoo. Me and a friend of mine did it with an Indian pen. We just jabbed at my arm until we made a mark. I knew my mother wasn’t going to let me get a tattoo, so we said the hell with it. I knew if I got one, then she would have no choice but to let me get some more. She then took me to get another one. But she was pretty pissed. She cursed me out. She was not happy.

Fourteen? That’s pretty young.

It was really young, but I knew she wasn’t going to let me do it unless I did it myself.

How exactly did that go down?

Me and my friend, we just sat in my room for about two hours jabbing away at my arm. My next one, I got less than a year after. It was addictive once I got the first one.
Which tattoo is your favorite?

My “Lights Out” tattoo is my favorite because that’s what I’m most known for. I had that one done back in Maryland when I was about 15 or 16, when people started calling me Lights Out.

What’s the most recent work you had done?

The last work I had was on my stomach. I had a skeleton wearing a helmet with a demon on it. This guy was really good with skulls and really good with fire.

So you found an artist who was better than that friend who stuck a pen in your arm?

(Laughs) Yeah, I did. There was no Indian pen being jabbed in my arm 3,000 times.

You obviously do a lot of training and working out during the offseason. But what else are you up to?

I play a lot of video games. That’s really it along with working out. I like war games. I like things that take a while to beat.

Anything we can expect from you this season?

A lot of head cracking. That’s basically it.

DEANNA NOLAN

DETROIT SHOCK
INKED: You’ve spent your offseasons in the WNBA playing in foreign countries. What were some of your experiences like there?

NOLAN: Playing oversees is an amazing experience. My first season overseas was in Italy, in Venice. I was close to the United States embassy, so it wasn’t difficult to get a lot of the things I was used to in the United States. I’ve also played in Spain. But the strangest was playing in Russia. I always had to have someone with me and I always had to have a driver driving me around. That’s probably what I missed the most, just being able to drive around. Plus, a lot of the people there just looked kind of sour.

When did you get your first tattoo?

I got my first one when I was about a sophomore in college and then got the second one a few years later. But since I left school, I’ve had a lot more done. I’m up to about 22. My favorite is probably the butterfly on my back, just because it was the most painful one. I remember that one best. I’ve also got a Tweety Bird, since that’s my nickname.

Two of your coaches, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, were key members of the legendary Detroit Pistons Bad Boy teams. What’s it like being coached by the Bad Boys?

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Obviously they have kind of a tough reputation, but they were not really like that. They’re great coaches.

Do they tell any old Bad Boy stories?

Oh, all the time. They bring out old videos and make us watch them all the time.
Old game footage?

Yeah. They once showed us this old music video they did from the ’80s. It was them singing along to “Purple Rain” by Prince. It was Laimbeer on drums and Mahorn on guitar and Isaiah [Thomas] singing. They also brought out the old game shorts they used to wear. Those things barely came down below their thighs.

How often do you have to school guys on the court?

All the time. There are still so many guys who think that because you’re a woman you can’t play. It’s great to get them out on the court.

BRENDAN WITT

NEW YORK ISLANDERSINKED: What was your first tattoo?

WITT: My first one, I got when I was 16. Typical hockey player, I got the Tasmanian Devil over my shoulder blade, which I have since somewhat covered up. I looked 18, so they didn’t bother me. I remember my father going, “Why did you do that? Does that come off?” He was really disappointed. I had come back for the summer, and then I went back to Seattle to play junior hockey and every year I would go to Seattle, I would come back with new ink. I got my ankle done with a flame kind of design and then my chest with a panther. I just got tattooed yesterday, a killer portrait of my wife on my arm. It was this West Palm artist called Deth Gunz. He did a really good job.

Sounds like you got started early getting work done in junior hockey.

The next one I got in Everett [Washington]. Everett’s a big port for the Navy. They have a huge naval station there, so there are five tattoo shops on this one stretch. When I lived in Maryland, I found a really good artist who worked out of Annapolis but came to my house. He was cool. He would set up shot in my bathroom and sit for five hours and just work. I got spoiled.

You’re Canadian, but you’ve lived in Florida for a few years now. How do you like the change?

Pretty good. We’ve been here five years and been through four hurricanes. Compared to Canada, I’d rather deal with hurricanes than snow. You don’t have to shovel it.
Do you consider yourself a Florida guy now?

I’m still a Canadian at heart, but I just love the warm weather and the fishing here. I love to spear fish. You just snorkel with fins and go down into the water. It’s pretty cool. I find it’s more of a challenge, depending on what you want to catch.

Does that offseason spear fishing help you at all when it comes time to flatten guys in the boards during the hockey season?

Nah, not really. It’s just fun.

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