USF basketball players' ink will make you think

12:50 AM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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  • Anthony Collins has tattoos representing his hometown of Houston on his right arm.
  • Corey Allen Jr. has Missouri-related tattoos.

South Florida point guard Anthony Collins dripped with sweat. He was stuck in the weight room rehabbing from a knee injury while the rest of his teammates were in the adjacent gym prepping for another conference game.  

He is far from home and fighting an injury. When he's looking for strength, all he needs to do is roll up his sleeves.

"Whenever I'm down I just look at that arm and it just brings a smile to my face," he said, gazing at his elaborate tattoos that blanket his right biceps and shoulder. "Basically this is just where I'm from."

Collins' right arm is a tribute to his family and his hometown and he's not the only Bulls player to honor both with their body art. Tattoos are very popular on the USF hoops roster and they all tell different stories.

"All of my tattoos basically mean something to me," said Collins. "They mean something to my heart."

Collins grew up in Houston playing basketball and watching cartoons. Naturally, both pastimes made it onto his body. His left arm showcases his favorite action heros - Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man - and a peanut holding a basketball.

"My nickname is 'Peanut head' ever since I was little," he said with a smile.

His dad gave him the nickname because of his short haircut and youthful, peanut-shaped head. The rest of his body is covered in crosses and bible verses like Deuteronomy 31:6 ("Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you") and Matthew 6:24 ("No one can serve two masters ... You cannot serve both God and money").

Collins' teammate, Victor Rudd, pays tribute to his hometown as well. His right arm shows off various southern California symbols and trademarks like the iconic Los Angeles Dodgers logo and his area code.

"If you know L-A, everybody where's Chucks," he said, pointing to his tattoo of the famous Converse Chuck Taylor star emblem. "Everybody wants to represent where they're from and most of the guys on the team have their cities tattooed on them."

Bulls newcomer Corey Allen Jr. has Missouri-related tattoos. Freshman Bo Zeigler has Detroit ink. Rudd calls them "prideful" and fun to show off. He got his first tattoo when he was 12.

"My grandma came and asked me if I wanted to get a tattoo because my brother just got one," he said. "I didn't think she was serious but I wanted to be cool so I got one."

Now, he can't count how many he has. Angels, Jesus, doves and more to go along with his California tribute. He's noticed that the negative stigma that used to surround body ink has started to fade.

"So many people have them in different phases of life from business people to athletes," said Rudd. "All kinds of different people have tattoos."

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