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Celebrity Ink

Danny Green - Three-Point Specialist
During the 2012-13 season, the San Antonio Spurs came as close as you can to winning the NBA Championship without actually bringing home the gold. One of the players who stepped up and helped push the team to the brink of greatness was shooting guard/forward Danny Green. The tattooed three-point specialist from Long Island, NY, is known on the court for hitting from the outside in high-pressure situations. Away from the hardwood, Green is famous for his growing ink collection devoted to family, life affirmations, and positivity.
 
URBAN INK: The "Made In New York" piece on your wrist is a symbol of where you come from. How did coming from New York and playing in schoolyard and city street games help you develop as a ball player?
Danny Green: Not just growing up, but playing ball within the five boroughs made me tougher as a player, and mentally tougher as a person; the kids that grow up in New York and other big cities tend to develop street smarts. Being from New York made me stronger and helped me develop tougher skin. If you can't handle the challenges that come with being in New York and playing on the big stage, you're not going to make it.

What can you tell me about the verse script on your chest?

That's from Martin Luther King: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." I got that when my father was incarcerated. (Martin Luther King) is a hero within my culture, and he made a lot of changes. That verse is a reminder that we aren't judged by how we react when things are going well. We're judged by how we go through the tough times. And when my father was incarcerated, while I was still a teenager, that was probably one of the toughest times of my life.

The piece beside that has a basketball theme, and looks a bit autobiographical. Is that correct?
It's a basketball, and it's also the world. And it says, "Green Makes The World Go 'round." There are a couple of ways you can take that. There's the old saying, "Money Makes The World Go 'round." Then there's also my name. So there are a couple of ways you can take it. But, for me, my family makes the world go around. I got that when I was young, and I thought it was very unique.

Was that your first piece?
The first tattoo I got is the "Hold My Own" on my (left) shoulder. I was a senior in high school. Back then, I really wasn't that confident. Whenever I would get into certain situations, I would look for someone to talk to, and to help get me through it. So I got that tattoo to remind myself, whatever the situation is, that I'll be able to hold my own.

Do you have one specific artist that does your work?
My first one was done in New York, but that's not where I usually go. Then I got one in North Carolina. I think he was from Wilmington. But my main guy that I go to now is a guy in Cleveland. His name is Jimmy Hayden (Focused Tattoos). He's done a lot of the (Cleveland) Cavaliers stuff, some other guys; he's done a bunch of Shaq's stuff. I always go back to him.

The work on your right biceps seems to be a tribute piece. What can you tell us about that?
That is a tribute to my brothers. It's a scroll with three angels around it. I have three brothers, and it has their names on there. They mean a lot to me.

Are the script pieces on your ribs affirmations?
They are sayings and reminders for me. One side says, "Always Hungry," and the other says, "'Never Satisfied." We used to have sayings at (University of) North Carolina, daily reminders. One was about how your forward progress ceases when you become satisfied. So you never want to become satisfied. I always want to stay hungry, and continue to grow and learn.

At the risk of stating the obvious, you definitely put a lot of time and consideration into each of your pieces before you go under the needle.
Definitely. For me, anything I put on my body needs to be beautiful, but it also needs to express something about me-who I am and where I'm from. It tells a story. With tattoos, people can tell a lot about you just by looking at you. It's a form of expression that tells your life story. Every one of my tattoos has a meaning to me, and most of them are there to show confidence.

The piece I was most looking forward to asking you about is your back tat. What portrait is that?
Well, I was into tattoos even back when I was young. I always liked the big pieces, and the back pieces. And I knew I wanted to get one. Like I said, my father was incarcerated. I don't know if you've ever seen the movie, Men of Honor, but Cuba Gooding, Jr., had this radio and he carved in the initials, ASNF. It stands for, "A Son Never Forgets." I got that across the top of my back. Then, when I met Jimmy (Hayden) in Cleveland, I figured he was the perfect guy to finish the work. So I had the picture of my dad from when I was a kid. Jimmy added some of his own ideas to the piece. My dad was always my coach and my biggest critic. When he came home, I showed it to him and he was really excited about it. He still talks about it.

Switching to basketball. What is it like playing for one of the most successful and respected organizations in the league?
Well, I've been playing for winning organizations since I was a kid. I won in high school. At North Carolina, we won. When I first came into the league in Cleveland, we won, and now I'm with the Spurs and we're a contender every year.  Having a great coach like Pop (Greg Popovich) makes it easy to be professional, and always be a contender. And who doesn't like to win?

Going into every season, some critics say the Spurs are getting too old to contend, and then the team proves them wrong. As the new season begins, is the team confident that they can continue to prove the critics wrong?
Definitely. We still have our foundation, and that foundation starts with Coach Pop. And obviously, we have Tony (Parker), Tim (Duncan), and Manu (Ginobili) back. They're also part of the foundation. Also, the young guys are getting better. It's hard to beat that. Most teams don't stay together that long, but we are fortunate to have the same guys coming back each year. So the chemistry is there, and I think it's going to be an exciting year for us.


Photography by Dan Howell
Article by Marlon Robinson

Model: Sanura
Sanuras makeup by Crystal Paige (crystalpaigebeauty.com)

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