The world of sports is filled with some pretty wild characters, and this inevitably means that there are plenty of crazy, shocking and hilarious tattoos. These athlete tattoos will often signify the challenging journey they have gone on to reach the pros, they sometimes allude to their faith, there may be no clear reason for their ink and there are then those that look like they were designed after a few too many drinks. Some of these athletes attempt to cover up their crazy tattoos, whilst some wear them proudly and give us a great insight into their character.

12. Shawne Merriman

“Lights Out” may be a great nickname for the former linebacker who earned his nickname by knocking out players in high school, but it does not make for a very good tattoo. Merriman has the image of somebody flicking a light switch tattooed just above the wrist on his right arm, but this is not a particularly intriguing or complicated piece of art. It is also not the best design, as it is essentially a large rectangle with a switch on it, and the hand is out of proportion and does not look like a human hand at all. Merriman would pretend to flick the switch on his tattoo after making a sack which was a nice touch, but the tattoo unfortunately looks like it was designed by a 5-year old.

11. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has a reputation as being one of the “nice guys” in the NBA. It therefore comes as a shock when you first see his ink, as it is a departure from his broad appeal persona. It also comes as a surprise as whilst playing none of his tattoos are visible, but he in fact has his entire torso and back covered in ink (this is what you would call business tattoos). It is an incredible mural and piece of art, with the majority of it alluding to his faith which he has been very vocal about over his career. His ink includes a large image of Jesus, an angel holding a basketball, a bible verse (John 1:2-4) and a pair of hands all on his back. On his stomach, KD has more scripture, a cross, and an image of a house amongst a few other bold designs.

10. Andrei Kirilenko

AK-47 takes home the award for most terrifying tattoo, and it is in fact such a creepy design that he has since had it faded. The image is of a flying beast which as it turns out is a World of War Craft character, but this is the kind of tattoo that you would expect to find on a character in a slasher film and not on a friendly, down to earth NBA player. The design covers his entire back and is certainly an impressive piece of art, but clearly not many people were too taken with the design as over the years it has faded and it is now not too noticeable when he is wearing a jersey. That should save a few kids from having nightmares.

9. Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar’s tattoo certainly is unique, and this is largely due to the placement. The professional wrestler has the image of a sword tattooed on his torso, with the handle starting just above his belly button and then the blade running in between his pecks and up to the bottom of the neck. The tattoo looks particularly odd and out of place because of the fact that he has no other ink on his chest; making it the first thing you notice about him (seeing as he always has his shirt off). Many fans have also joked about the phallic shape of the sword, something that must not have occurred to him when coming up with the design. It is certainly one of the stranger athlete tattoos out there, and due to its shape and position it has also become a hot topic of conversation in the wrestling world.

8. DeShawn Stevenson

There is nothing crazy or strange about having a tattoo of Abraham Lincoln tattooed on your body, but DeShawn Stevenson’s tattoo is an odd choice. The current free agent has an image of Lincoln’s face tattooed on his Adam’s apple, causing the tattoo to move every time Stevenson moves his head. Stevenson has also since had his neck pierced with a small stud, which sits just below Lincoln’s beard like a tiny necklace. Due to the placement of the tattoo, the image is not always clear and many people began asking Stevenson who he had tattooed on his neck. To clear matters up, he completed the tattoo with 2 large 5’s either side of the design as Lincoln appears on a $5 bill. The placement and piercing make this a bizarre tattoo, but one that can provide great entertainment as the image of Lincoln’s face matches Stevenson’s head movements.

7. Chris Andersen

“Birdman” looks more like a human coloring book than an NBA player, as the Miami Heat big man is covered from head to toe in bold, colorful designs (as well as a large Mohawk). He has become a fan favorite over the years due to his striking appearance as well as his “Birdman” persona, and he is more famous for this than his actual play (although he has proven himself to be a valuable asset in Miami). You could spend hours looking at his tattoos as there are so many of them, but his craziest and most noticeable piece is “FREE BIRD” written across his neck. This is done in large text and contains green, blue, orange and purple, which is a striking enough color palette in itself. A bold and colorful neck tattoo may not be for everyone, but as Lynyrd Skynyrd said – “this bird you cannot change”.

6. Brent Burns

There are many die-hard Harry Potter fans out there, but San Jose’s Brent Burns may be one of the biggest. Burns has proved his love for Harry Potter with a huge, colorful tattoo that takes up his entire thigh. The image is of a blue dragon at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with Harry Potter flying on a broomstick against the night sky towards the dragon. It is an impressive piece of artwork, but you can certainly imagine that Burns gets a fair amount of teasing as it is not exactly the coolest choice in tattoo that you could opt for. Burns is an avid fan of the boy wizard, and he has stated that he loves the books and that “Hogwarts looks fun”. Burns also has a beard that could well be inspired by the Hogwarts gamekeeper, Hagrid.

5. Stephon Marbury

Starbury had a turbulent career in the NBA, and his head tattoo came at a time where the Coney Island native was clearly struggling both off and on the court. The tattoo may not be as wild as Tyson’s, but it is still in a rather shocking place and it will forever be on show. Brand tattoos are always questionable, but at least Marbury went for the logo of his own brand – “Starbury”. Marbury may see it as a form of advertising, but for most people it represents a time where the bright young star began to fade. Fortunately Marbury has since found his way, and he is now thriving in China having won three championships with the Beijing Ducks. As far as head tattoos go, this is more subtle than most but it is still a shocking and crazy choice by the former NBA point guard.

4. Marquis Daniels

Tattoo’s will sometimes have a dark nature to them as they will often represent a challenging period in someone’s life, but Marquis Daniels’ tattoo is beyond dark and is quite disturbing. The graphic image is on his forearm which also makes it difficult to cover up, and this is a design that is certainly not what a child would want to see. The tattoo depicts a cartoon character that has a shotgun in its mouth, with the character pulling the trigger with its toe. There is then blood splattering out the back of its head, with the phrase “only the strong survive” above the image. The troubling image is one of the craziest that the NBA has seen, and you can imagine that it is also a design which Daniels may occasionally regret due to its morbid tone.


3. Artur Boruc

Many of the tattoos on this list have a profound and deep meaning behind them, but not this one. The Bournemouth goalkeeper has never been one to shy away from controversy, with this tattoo also playing a role in one of his eye opening moments. Boruc has the image of a cartoon monkey bent over and looking back through his legs, with the tattoo positioned so that his bellybutton is in the centre of the monkey’s backside. During his time at Glasgow, Boruc managed to wind up rival Rangers fans by writing their team name around the monkey. It is certainly one of the more grotesque athlete tattoos out there, and perhaps one that Boruc should have slept on before going into the tattoo parlor.

2. Dennis Rodman

It should come as no surprise to see “The Worm” on this list as he is famous for his eccentricity, but this tattoo is shocking even for him. The former Chicago Bull, who earned a name for himself with colorful hairstyles, tattoos, all kinds of body piercings and wearing outlandish clothes (including a wedding dress), has a rather graphic image that is spread across his entire back. The image of the naked woman speaks for itself and does not need explaining, and it surely has caused a few jaws to drop anytime Rodman takes his shirt off. “The Worm” may no longer be terrorizing people on the basketball court, but he is still shocking and scaring people off of it and this is why he is such a popular and intriguing personality in the world of sports.

1. Mike Tyson

One of the most famous tattoos of all-time, Mike Tyson’s face tattoo was certainly a bold choice. The former heavyweight champ had a career which shocked, scared and stunned many, and the reaction was no different when he first showed his ink back in 2003. The tattoo is similar to those that the Maori tribe wore and is said to represent Tyson’s “warrior status”. It is now difficult to imagine Tyson without this tattoo as it has become such a big part of his character, but you have to wonder if he sometimes regrets getting a tattoo on an area which is impossible to cover up. If anyone has a tattoo that perfectly represents their character, then it is Mike Tyson with his infamous face tattoo.