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Tale of Our Tattoos
Edited By Kostya Kennedy and B.J. Schecter
June 06, 2005
Detroit Pistons Edition
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June 06, 2005

Tale Of Our Tattoos

Detroit Pistons Edition

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RICHARD (RIP) HAMILTON, Guard

The six-year veteran has several tattoos but says this one, on his left arm, is "my favorite because it's my first." Hamilton got the inking in 1996 as a senior at Coatesville (Pa.) High. "Milton Baxter, one of my good friends, made it up and designed it for me. RIP is for my name"-- Hamilton has the same nickname as his father, Richard Sr., who got it because he tore off his diapers as a baby--"the tombstone and the hand coming out of the grave means basketball for life. When I got it I was on my way to college [ UConn], so even if my parents were mad, they wouldn't see me. But they liked it. Now I get a lot of compliments on it."

BEN WALLACE, Center

The defensive wiz says his tat was inspired by his 10th-grade history teacher at Central High in Hayneville, Ala., Mr. Calhoun. "We were all doing reports, and I didn't know what I wanted to do," Wallace says. "He told me I should check out Big Ben, the tower in England." Wallace got the stylized lettering first, as a junior at Virginia Union. "I draw all my own tattoos, and I hadn't come up with a sketch of the tower," says Wallace, who had the building added in a 2 1/2-hour session a year later. Wallace had the clock set at 10 because in craps "Big Ben" is slang for a roll of 10, and that, says Wallace, "pays the best."

CHAUNCEY BILLUPS, Guard

"My neighborhood back in Denver is Park Hill, and I'm the first person to make it out of there and be doing what I'm doing," says Billups, 28, who was MVP of last year's Finals. "So I'm the king of the Hill. I got the tattoo when I got drafted [by the Celtics in 1997]. It's a pride thing about representing where I'm from, remembering my people from home." The crowned ball spinner wears number 4, which was Billups's number at Colorado and with three NBA teams before Detroit, where it has been retired for Joe Dumars. Has Billups thought about changing the tat to his current number 1? "No," he says. "I'll always be number 4 in my heart."

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