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Chicago Sky inked: Players explain the meaning and purpose behind their tattoos

10 months agoKarli Bell

Tattoos have always had a space within the sports world, especially on the hardwood. Over the last decade or so, fans have seen an increase in tattoos in basketball and the WNBA, in particular.

“It’s kind of the culture in basketball with just having tattoos. A lot of people who play basketball just happen to be the type of person who has tattoos,” Sky center Ruthy Hebard said.

Several Chicago Sky players show off the artwork on their body when they hit the court, including Courtney Williams’ full leg and arm sleeves on the right side of her body.

“I just want to get the whole right side of my body done. I started it, so might as well finish it,” Williams said laughing.

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The arm sleeve pays tribute to Williams as a person and her journey to the WNBA. 

She has a lion on the shoulder, because she “has the heart of a lion.” It trickles down into a piece that highlights her basketball journey, starting with her travel team’s logo going along to her high school as well as her alma mater (the University of South Florida) and the WNBA logo. She has her basketball number (No. 10) inked on her right shoulder.

Moving down the forearm, Williams recognizes her family and friends with both her parents’ names as well as the initials of her sister and nephew. On the inside of the arm, Williams has a portrait of her best friend who passed away.

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On the upper leg, Williams showcases her own interests within the music world with portraits of Tupac and Andre 3000 with plans to finish up the detailing as well as add some other music legends, such as Lauryn Hill. 

As you move down the leg, Williams pays tribute to her hometown of Folkstown, GA with the name of the town, the area code and initials of the street she grew up on bordering around a large peace sign over the knee. Down the calf, Williams’ love of anime – specifically Avatar and Dragon Ball Z – are on full display with detailed portraits of some of her favorite characters, especially Gohan from Dragon Ball Z.

“Gohan grew up and got kind of lame, not going to lie, but when he was a kid, he was a dog. That’s why I got him as a kid,” Williams said, comparing her ‘dog’ approach to basketball to the anime character.

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Robyn Parks has something similar on her left arm with a full sleeve commemorating her international journey to the W. It starts with her ‘passport’ on the shoulder into the logo of her alma mater in Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I’ve been overseas for 9 years so my passport’s good,” Parks said smiling.

Parks shows love to her family all over her body with her parents’ birthdays tattooed on her shoulders along with the fill-ins on her left arm saying ‘Family First.’ It continues onto her right leg with a portrait of her grandmother, who passed away in 2019 as well as her grandmother’s name encapsulated in a cross on her calf.

“This is my baby,” Parks said smiling as she showed off the portrait. “I carry her with me everywhere I go. My grandmother was my everything. Losing her hurt, but I feel like now, she’s everywhere I go.”

Parks is considering adding onto the leg but, “We’ll see what my grandma has to say about it.”

While Parks and Williams have full sleeves on display, other Sky players have some smaller pieces spread out over their bodies, such as Dana Evans.

Evans has smaller pieces on her right forearm with religious undertones and motivational meanings, one saying “Godspeed,” one saying “Think Positive” with a cross as the T in “positive” and the other saying “God is still working on me.”

“He’s still working on me. I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. As long as He accepts me, I’m fine with that,” Evans said. 

Evans also has a large lion on her left thigh and has plans for more ink.

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“I think I want to get an 11:11 manifestation [on my right wrist]. That’s what I’m thinking about getting next. I get bored and I’ll be like I want to do something,” Evans said laughing.

Hebard’s tattoos pay tribute to her family and her home state of Alaska with a quarter sleeve filled with the state flower of forget-me-nots and roses. She has three forget-me-nots in honor of her three brothers.

On her ankle, she has a sweet pea flower with the words ‘Love you muchly’ under it as a tribute to her mom.

“My mom calls me sweet pea, and she would always sign her letters that she sent me in college as ‘Love you muchly,’” Hebard said.

As Hebard has entered into motherhood herself, she’s looking forward to paying tribute to her son through a tattoo.

“I don’t know if I want to get his name or his birthday or both and then slowly get a sleeve. I like to do things that are memorable and have purpose and meaning,” Hebard said.

Tattoos and the body art is generational as rookie Taylor Soule has a variety of smaller pieces on her arms and chest as well as a half sleeve on her left arm. She has two tattoos dedicated to her parents with a tree from her home state of New Hampshire for her mom and bicycle on her ribcage for her dad.

In the sleeve is a nod to a late former teammate paired with her favorite tattoo being a quote: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

To hear and see more of the Sky’s tattoos, watch the videos above.

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