The tattoos that adorn the body of Ravens running back Ray Rice aren't intended strictly for decoration, unlike those who casually collect ink like spare change.
Instead, Rice's eight tattoos carry special meaning for the Pro Bowl runner because each one is intended to honor his family.
Whether it's the name of his mother, Janet Rice, on his left arm, the words "Gifted One," prominently on his forearm, his younger siblings' names and the nickname of his cousin, "Supe,' on his right biceps, each tattoo is accompanied by a significant personal story for Rice.
Rice and his tattoos are being featured in the new AOL web series called "My Ink." The show, which is produced by Mike Tollin and is focused on professional athletes' body art, was introduced Tuesday in New York.
"I get to show off my tattoos a little bit, and they all have sentimental value to me," Rice told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview. "I grew up without my father and I have my mom's name on my left arm because only God understands the relationship between my mom and me. She raised us as a single parent. It's so different.
"It's like we're brother and sister. It gives me a different perspective because all of my tattoos mean something to me. I'm not saying a tattoo has to mean something, but I want to live with having my memories embedded on me."
Many of those memories are unfortunately sad ones for Rice, who grew up a housing project in New Rochelle, N.Y.
When Rice was 1 year old, his father, Calvin Reed, was killed in Mount Vernon, N.Y., as the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting. Rice's cousin and father figure, Myshaun Rice-Nichols, and his wife died in a car accident when he was killed by a drunk driver when Rice was 11 years old.
"I didn't have that father figure after my father died, so my cousin used to take me on long walks in the park and mentored me and he even lived with me and his mom until he left to pursue his music career," Rice said. "It's very sad. His wife died on impact. He held on for a couple of days until he passed on March 3, 1998. I have a tattoo of the day he died on me with a question mark, meaning when am I going to see him again."
The words "Supe" stands for Rice-Nichols' mantra: "Spiritually Uplifting People."
Rice has a special upcomng tattoo planned. He wants to get a tattoo of his 15-month-old daughter's little footprints.
"I just want a small visual of her footprints," Rice said. "When I'm running into the end zone, she'll be running with me."
Rice plans to get that tattoo at a local Baltimore tattoo shop.
Rice is also thinking about getting an emblem of the Ravens' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers and the Vince Lombardi trophy they earned.
"The idea for this series is that tattoos are huge, especially among athletes," said Tal Simantov, vice president of video strategy and marketing for AOL. "The first episode features Ray and the emotional stories behind his tattoos. He represents us very well, which is a slate built around authentic voices and unscripted content.
"We want to show the connection between the tattoos and the athletes and that emotional side. Ray's an amazing person to launch our show with his passion. So, he'll be a big part of what we're doing."
There are limits for Rice when it comes to tattoos. He wouldn't get one on his neck or face or ever get a mural style of body art.
"I wouldn't want anything to where I couldn't put on a long sleeve shirt in a business setting to cover them," Rice said. "I don't mind people seeing my tattoos when I put on a T-shirt. I like getting out there and doing stuff like this. It's an opportunity for my personality to be shown. It's exciting to do this."
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