Like so many other things among the NBA fraternity, including expensive cars, jewelry, off-the-court business ventures, and even interests in fine wine, tattoos and body art are a huge part of the subculture they share. Tattoos were obviously first a part of gang culture (which, unfortunately, happened to be around where many of these players grew up), but was amplified by hip hop music, which many of these players listened to while growing up as well. With the crossover between hip hop and music in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, it’s no surprise we saw an explosion in NBA players getting tattoos.
As an example, take a look at the guys on this list. Many of them walked into the NBA as fresh-faced and largely ink-free teenagers, only to become grown men with tattoos as intricate as their basketball skillsets. Here are some of the top “before and after tattoos” look at former and current NBA stars.
Back in the days when he joined the Denver Nuggets after spending the first couple of years in his NBA career bouncing between China, the now defunct International Basketball Association (IBA), and the NBA Development League, Chris “Birdman” Anderson still had a few tattoos on his arms, but was far from the full-body art mural he became in later years. By the time he joined the Miami Heat in 2016, he literally was covered in tattoos all the way up past his neck; he even had two skulls tattooed on the back of his skull, with the words “GIVE ME WAR” inked right where his spine meets the back of his head.