When fans think of Kevin Garnett tattoos, it’s likely lower on the list of talking points in regards to the former Boston Celtics star. He wasn’t as famous for having body ink like trendsetters such Allen Iverson or Dennis Rodman. He certainly didn’t have as many as players like Chris Anderson or JR Smith.
But The Big Ticket also had his fair share of tattoos, some of which were inked during his career, and some done after he hung up his sneakers.
Every tattoo is said to have a story, and that’s certainly true of Garnett. His tattoos offer a glimpse on his influences and the values and people that he considers important. They include a mantra that has come to define his 21-year NBA career, his crowning achievement as a player, and a former teammate and dear friend who is never far from his thoughts.
He hasn’t spoken about his tattoos as much as other players like Iverson have, but here are some of the ones that he has revealed and spoken about and what they mean to him:
Kevin Garnett Tattoos
“Only God can judge me. Rest in Peace MS2.”
Garnett has always been someone who marched to the beat of his own drum. Others have imitated his style of play, but there hasn’t been anyone quite like him in the NBA. From joining the league straight out of high school to being known as one of the most intense and passionate players of his generation, someone who always left all on the floor whenever he played. That mentality is reflected in the saying “Only God can judge me,” one of the tattoos on his arm, according to NBA Tattoos.
MS2, meanwhile, is a tribute to NBA player Malik Sealy, who played eight seasons in the league and was his former Timberwolves teammate from 1998-2000. He and Garnett were close friends, and the entire team were shocked when Sealy died in May 2000 in a car accident. Sealy was killed as he was coming home from Garnett’s birthday party when a drunk driver crashed into his SUV. Garnett and another Wolves teammate, Joe Smith, had tattoos of his name to play tribute to Sealy, whose #2 jersey was retired by the Timberwolves.
In another tribute to his fallen teammate, Garnett chose to wore #2 on his jersey when he played for the Brooklyn Nets from 2013-2015.
“Blood, Sweat, and Tears.” “Sky’s The Limit.”
An online profile of Garnett sheds light on some of the other tattoos on the former Timberwolves, Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets star. One is the phrase “Blood, Sweat, and Tears,” which also typifies the hardworking persona that Garnett was known for and the sacrifices he made throughout his career.
Another phrase written in ink on the NBA’s 2004 MVP’s body is “Sky’s the Limit.” Of course, Garnett need not remind his fans as well as Celtics supporters of this phrase, as he memorably said a different version of it as he basked in the victory after winning the 2008 NBA championship.
Scorpion and Dragon
A predator. That’s one way to describe the way that the 44-year old played when he was in the NBA. He wasn’t someone who backed down on any player, whether it was an opponent driving to the basket or someone trying to get under his skin by giving him a piece of his mind. As such, it’s only fitting that two of his tattoos are of a scorpion and dragon, two animals (one of them mythical) that are known to be lethal creatures. Garnett got his dragon tattoo on his chest while he was with the Celtics back in 2012.
21 and Ashley
Garnett may have played for the Celtics and the Nets, but he remains forever connected to the Timberwolves, where he spent his first 12 seasons before eventually returning to finish his career in the Twin Cities in 2016. So it comes as no surprise that his connection to Minnesota and his iconic #21 jersey are written in ink on his body. Another tattoo on the 15-time All Star’s body is the name Ashley, the name of his younger sister.
Larry O’Brien Trophy on his neck
Even after retirement, Garnett has stayed in the limelight, joining the likes of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal on TNT’s Inside the NBA in 2016, and even getting his own segment, KG’s Area 21. And it is here where, along with O’Neal, got tattooed on live TV for some reason, even cursing during the segment, according to Boston Magazine.
Garnett opted to get a Larry O’Brien trophy tattoo on his neck, partially as a way to tribute to the championship-winning 2008 Celtics team that he was a part of. Another reason he did, however, was to spite Barkley, who was watching the segment and famously never won a title during his NBA career. Never change, KG.