Lloy Ball, Tattoos and Capricious Youth
The U.S. men's volleyball team has its share of characters, but media folks aren't going there after this month's events. I spent a few minutes with longtime setter Lloy Ball last week, before things turned tragic, but I obviously didn't want to post his thoughts about tattoos while the rest of the media world was writing about sadness and tears. And clearly I won't go to the gym and ask the players to be droll just yet, but maybe it's ok if I post this item.
If you've followed the team's history, you remember that Ball was previously depicted as the bad boy of indoor volleyball: the "Satan" nickname, the "Boo-yah!" screams after successful spikes, his fish face that he called "The Grouper," the "Anger is a Gift" tattoo that came from Rage Against the Machine lyrics. An "in-your-face, tattooed Generation X'er," one newspaper called him during the '96 Games, and virtually every story had a similar theme.
There's always been the basketball angle as well: Ball played AAU hoops with Glenn Robinson, Damon Bailey and Pat Knight, and Bobby Knight offered him a scholarship, but he decided to go the volleyball route instead.Since Ball became the face of the men's program, there has been Olympic disappointment: the squad took gold in '84 and '88 and bronze in '92, but hasn't medaled since. That's why he's now called "the Barry Sanders, Charles Barkley, Pat Lafontaine, Alex Rodriguez and even Dan Marino of the United States men's volleyball team."
Last week, we talked briefly about his trash talking, his tats and whether this was definitely his last Olympics. [Although that first question was asked by another reporter.]
I can't ever say never, but man, I'm gonna give you 99.9 percent not likely. I'm really looking forward to this Olympics, and then I'm looking forward to next summer being a full-time father and a full-time husband, spending some time at the lake, letting my bones heal after a long winter in Russia where I'm heading after the Olympics. I don't think  is in the cards. I know I'm gonna leave this team in great hands. Our back-up setter Kevin Hansen's amazing, and if we don't get it done this time I'm sure he and the boys will get it done next time.
Are you still doing the tat thing?
I got one last year for my baby daughter, I got her name on my arm. I like 'em. My wife thinks they're sexy. I don't make a big deal out of em any more, and most people don't, because I'm just an old man with tatties now, but I'll probably get 'em the rest of my life. I mean, until my body's so out of shape that it just looks repulsive.
But I don't know, I just like the way it feels. I mean, there's something about sitting there and getting 'em done. All of mine are somewhat important to me personally, a little journal on the body. My mom would like to see 'em be finished, but as long as the wife says it's ok, I don't mind going once in a while.
Whats' the number now?
I think I've got nine.
Just the new one with my baby girl, Mya. She has a little crown above her name, you know, my little princess. A lot of 'em are Olympic-related.
And what about the 'Anger is a Gift" thing?
Yeah, uh...capricious youth? Back in '96 for some reason I thought I needed to be somewhat upset to play well. Luckily it only took me 12 years to figure out that that's not true. And to have the devil on your arm does not bode well when you go to church with your mom on Christmas, I can tell you. But, you know, live and learn.
So you don't play angry any more?
Not so much. I mean, it takes someone across the net saying REALLY bad things to me in a language I understand to get too upset.
Really? Does that go on?
Oh yeah, yeah. You'll see it when we play Italy. You know, a lot of us just aren't real fond of each other. We play against each other on the national teams but also in club ball a lot of times. I've had a REAL good couple of years in club ball, so I'm not real popular with some of em, and I've on occasion let them know that I'm a little better than they are sometimes, and they take offense at that and start yelling at me through the net. In Italian, most of 'em.
What about your teammates? Do they understand?
I just don't tell what they're saying.
Are you the only one on the team that does the tat thing?
Some guys have a couple here and there. Some guys from last Olympics got a couple. I don't know, maybe it's played out. Is it a '90s thing? Tattoos? I don't know.
I don't think so. Everyone in the NBA still does it. [Long explanation of DeShawn Stevenson's back tattoo.]
For shirts and skins that probably works out well.
So for you is it a remnant of your basketball past?
Maybe a little bit. I definitely look much cooler at the Y in a tank top.
Posted by: TruthAboutIt.net | August 12, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse
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