NBA players’ love affair with tattoos has long been documented. Even the league’s resident “fun guy” Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers also likes to express himself through several meaningful body arts.
In fact, Leonard’s greatness has even inspired some of his die-hard fans to get inked up as well. Last year, one fan immortalized Leonard’s now-iconic game-winner in Game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unlike most of his peers who opted to cover almost their entire body in tattoos, Leonard only has a few pieces to show for. Each one serves its own purpose, particularly commemorating the people closest to him.
Let’s break down all the known tattoos on the Clippers’ superstar’s body.
“Fear God not them” on right shoulder
Leonard’s right arm is covered in tattoos — composed of different pieces that have evolved into an impressive sleeve. Plastered on his upper shoulder is the phrase “Fear God not them.” This is perhaps the creed that Kawhi lives by.
He certainly abides by those words each time he’s on the hardwood. The 28-year-old two-way star is as fearless as they come, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Leonard is one of the few superstars willing to guard anyone, regardless of their size.
Cross on right shoulder
While the cross is another sign of his strong faith, the symbol is also in memoriam of Kawhi’s deceased father, Mark Leonard. The elder Leonard was tragically shot and killed in his own car wash on Jan. 18, 2008. Kawhi was just 16 years old at the time of his passing.
Tombstone with angel wings on right shoulder
Right below the giant cross is an image of a tombstone with the words “R.I.P dad.” This is another straightforward tribute to the Leonard patriarch, whom Kawhi looked up to the most. Shortly after the death of his father, Leonard summoned the strength to play in a basketball game the following evening. He reportedly broke down in tears following the final buzzer.
The wings on each side of the tombstone was also a nice touch, signaling how his pops in a better place now.
Basketball jersey surrounded by clouds and halo on right bicep
Tucked inside Leonard’s bicep is another fitting tribute to his beloved old man. The jersey, clouds, and halo combo is indeed unique and perhaps signifies how his father’s influence pushed him to excel in the sport.
Kawhi Leonard is SUPER excited about his career high. pic.twitter.com/3ooWbCDFp7
— Caleb Saenz (@calebjsaenz) April 7, 2014
While Mark never saw his son become a superstar in the pros, Leonard’s now-infamous uncle Dennis stepped into that father-figure role.
The Leonard family continues to seek justice to this day, as Mark’s killer remains at large.
As mentioned, Leonard’s right arm is covered in ink. However, given his private nature, fans have yet to get a closer look at the designs on his forearm. Apart from his tribute tattoos for his father, the two-time Finals MVP also reportedly has a mermaid tattoo on the lower part of his arm.
Mermaid-inspired tattoos usually signify nature, intuition, birth or rebirth and creation.