This feature was originally published in Dime 72. Check your local newsstands now to see the piece in its entirety…
The Nets started a new age in Brooklyn this season, and they’re doing it without Anthony Morrow, the 6-5 sharpshooter who spent the last two seasons with New Jersey. He was traded to Atlanta this summer, and then to Dallas during this year’s trade deadline. New beginnings mean Morrow must rely on the foundation in his life – faith, family, home – and he won’t need to look far to find them, either. They’re all over his body.
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It was during Anthony Morrow’s rookie season in 2008. They were all just kicking it at Jermareo Davidson’s house. Chilling. At the time, Morrow and Davidson were teammates with the Golden State Warriors, and Davidson had a special friend in town. Hakim Alston was a tattoo artist from Alabama, and Davidson first met him while playing for the Crimson Tide. Now going into his second year in the NBA, Davidson had flown Alston out to California with instructions: bring your A-game. I need some more ink.
Once there, Alston turned to Morrow, who didn’t get his first two tattoos until the previous summer, and asked if he wanted one too.
“I don’t know. I might want one. I’m not sure,” Morrow told him.
Before the day was over, Alston had put Morrow’s daughter’s name on his chest.
“I loved it so much, man, I got like five more tattoos,” Morrow says. “Ever since then, he’s done all my tattoos.”
Then Alston must be a busy guy. Nowadays, Morrow estimates he has over 40 tattoos, and by the time you read this feature, he might be closer to 50. They’re constantly evolving, the tale of his life sprawling out across his body in new chapters. Every one of them has a story. Every one is connected.
“It’s kind of addicting,” he says, “especially when you have a space between two tattoos that you want to fill in.”
When we caught up with Morrow, he was excited to finally have time to go house shopping in Atlanta. Last summer’s trade sent Joe Johnson to Brooklyn, while Morrow and others went to the Hawks. It was a whirlwind for him. Yes, hearing he was going home felt like two huge weights were lifted off his back. But besides moving back into the city where he played college ball, Morrow spent the summer with his family, shuttling back and forth between Charlotte, North Carolina, New Jersey and Atlanta. He vacationed in South Carolina. And he worked with Accelerate Basketball to improve his overall floor game. Everyone knows he can shoot – he’s a career 43 percent three-point shooter who averaged 12 points a night with the Nets last year – and the summer was about catching the rest of his game up.
Even though Morrow scored just 5.5 points a night in limited minutes in the ATL this season, and then has barely gotten off the pine so far in Dallas, his shooting could prove to make a big difference with the Mavericks.
But whatever does happen the rest of the season, Morrow knows he’ll still have his faith. He’ll still have his family, and he’ll still have home. They don’t waver or change, and they’re always with him. Just take a look at his arms, his chest, his stomach.
The tattoo phenomenon isn’t limited to NBA players, yet sometimes it feels that way. They play ball in shorts and jerseys. Their bodies are on display during their hours of work. Many end up using ink to decorate themselves. It’s a culture in itself.
“But like I always say, it’s not a measure of your mind or your heart,” Morrow adds. “It all depends on how far you go with it. Personally, I wouldn’t get a tattoo on my neck or I wouldn’t get my throat done or my face or anything like that. It’s really about what you want, what you really love or care about and you express it through body art.”
All of his tattoos serve a purpose, and they all play off each other like dominos. While Morrow has added newer designs to his body than these, and expects to continue getting more, the following tattoos are the foundations of his ink. They almost all revolve around what keeps him grounded: faith, family and home.
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A’niyah Monét Morrow
“I got my daughter on there, on my left peck. A’niyah Monét with the accent over the e, and then Morrow. And on my right, I got the Romans 8:31, which is basically ‘If the Lord is with us, then who can be against us?’ Then, I got the ‘Rise And Grind’ on my stomach. I got some new stuff. I got a Rosary on my sternum going down to the middle of my stomach, and in-between that, I got Corinthians 13: 1-5.”
“Morrow Family Loyalty. I got something added to that, too. I got a halo up there now too with some rays. That’s basically just my entire family, putting everybody right there. We are all staying loyal to each other.”