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Roger Mason's New Tattoo

Wizards guard Roger Mason Jr. unveiled his new tattoo yesterday, which runs all up and down his left upper arm and shoulder.

"That's blazin'," DeShawn Stevenson said when he first saw it.

The full image from a distance. (By Sports Bog)

I guess I knew that Roger had been thinking of getting a new tattoo to honor his father, although I had forgotten. Flash back to the first day of training camp in Richmond, when Roger's place on the team was not yet secured, and when I wrote this:

Roger Mason Jr. wants to get a second tattoo in honor of his deceased father, but he's going to wait until he makes the roster. "Hopefully," he said, correcting himself. That's confidence, though; planning out which tattoo to get on day one of training camp.

Here's the fuller story. When his father was ill before passing away in 1991, the family took comfort in reciting Psalms 46 together in the hospital. Roger went through the first two verses for me last night:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the depths of the sea;

For several years he's planned to get a tattoo, inspired by those verses, in his father's memory. He actually met with his tattoo artist, Grant Cobb from Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan, more than a year ago to discuss his ideas, but he wanted to wait until he was sure he knew exactly what he wanted. He originally wanted the centerpiece to be the mountains being carried into the sea, accompanied by a hovering angel praying. Grant suggested the foreground be more angel and less mountain, so that there would be a central figure to carry the image.

Grant read the verses himself to get his own ideas, and then he made a sketch, and then made another sketch this winter when Roger decided he was ready, and then they revised the sketch together, and then this week they got it done in a four-and-a-half hour session, which is about as long as Grant will let a client go at one sitting.

"He sat there like a champ," Grant said when I talked with him this afternoon. "Most of these rock stars and athletes, they're all kind of on their own schedule, but Roger was real cool, real professional, right on time."

The angel, up close. (By Sports Bog)

Anyhow, the top of the image near the shoulder has sort of a Renaissance-inspired fresco border. The waves are "Japanese-style finger waves," which hold up well on the body and are easy to read. The angel's torso was based on a Michelangelo sculpture. Grant usually uses the Old Masters when sketching angels, but this angel's face was made to look ethnically ambiguous instead of clasically Italian; "we wanted a face that was not a social statement, very much a religious statement and all encompassing," he explained. "All God's children, so to speak." The bottom reads "Psalms 46." On paper, the entire image measured something like 7 inches by 15 inches.

"There's references from five different centuries and three or four different genres of art," Grant said. "It was something that kind of needed some work, but it means a lot to him, it was real personal....It was really cool to be able to do something like that for him."

The original idea included the words of the scripture as part of the image, but they ran out of space, and so eventually Roger might get the words inked on the inside of his arm. Grant, by the way, has done work for plenty of celebs: Game, the Madden brothers from Good Charlotte, lead singer Chris Carrabba from the Dashboard Confessionals, All-American Rejects drummer Chris Gaylor, etc. And Roger, who is possibly the nicest athlete I've ever dealt with, said that while some other Wizards are now thinking about using Grant in the near future and while everyone who's seen his arm has been impressed with the artwork, that's not the important part.

"Everybody loves it who sees it, but the meaning is what's important," Roger said. "That's why I got it."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 8, 2007; 3:41 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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