Kevin Durant

Earlier this week, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson decided to show off his newest “armor of God” tattoo as he was returning to training camp after being reinstated into the NFL after a suspension related to a child-abuse case.

Tattoos have always been an outlet for athletes to express themselves, and they’re something that fans can use to get to know their favorite athletes better. Here are five athletes with ink we admire:

1. Tim Howard


Soccer’s Tim Howard is an athlete of many tattoos. The U.S. goalkeeper received high praise for his 2014 performance at the World Cup, where he made a record 16 saves during a match against Belgium.

But saving goals isn’t the only thing Howard does. The soccer player also has a side hobby of inking his body, and when he isn’t doing that, he may be caught inking other people. In June he moonlighted as a tattoo artist.


2. Brittney Griner


The WNBA’s Brittney Griner, a center with the Phoenix Mercury, had a chance to show off her body and tattoos in ESPN the Magazine’s 2015 Body issue. Griner, who has spoken openly about being a gay athlete, has one tattoo that she describes as her “lesbian tattoo”—two interlocking female symbols—on her left hip.

3. Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was once criticized by a sports columnist for his elaborate body art. Writer David Whitley likened Kaep’s ink to tats similar to those of prison inmates—never mind that most of the tattoos were inspired by Bible verses.


In 2014 TMZ revealed the story behind one of Kaepernick’s newer tattoos about “the corruptive nature of money.” In an Instagram post, the NFL player described the new ink by saying, “Money is the root of all evil!”

4. J.R. Smith

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has described his first tattoo as “a picture of him dunking” when he was 15. The majority of the NBA star’s body is covered with tattoos, including a “Through the Fire” tat, which Smith says represents his having “been through hell.”


5. Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder star forward Kevin Durant keeps most of his tats under his jersey. The NBA player has inked most of his chest and stomach, with one tat of the logo for baseball’s Washington Nationals, representing his native D.C., and another on his upper back that says “Maryland,” where he grew up.


In 2013 Durant posted a photo on Instagram of a new tattoo that was supposed to be a Bible passage from James 1:2-4, but it had a misspelling. Durant immediately went back to get the error fixed and gave social media fans an updated post, saying, “I got mature spelled the right way lol.” 

Phillip Jackson is The Root’s summer intern and will be a junior at Hampton University in the fall. Follow him on Twitter.