Basketball player’s tattoos more than just art


Michael Porrini

Nick Shook

Kent State fans often witnessed Michael Porrini sprint up and down the M.A.C. Center floor with passion and intensity during his time as the starting point guard for the Flashes. They also saw many of Porrini’s tattoos, but few knew the stories behind his ink.

“When I go and get a tattoo, I think about my family and if they would be willing to accept the fact that I have tattoos, because I was raised to not get tattoos,” Porrini said. “Instead of going my entire life with not being able to have a story, I could do a storyline on my body. That’s why I get tattoos.”

Cross filled with basketballs

Where: Hammer’s Tattoo in Massillon, Ohio

When: Porrini’s 16th birthday

Basketball has been an integral part of Porrini’s life since his childhood. Porrini got his first tattoo on his 16th birthday.

“I got it for my 16th birthday, my mom got it [for him] as a birthday present,” Porrini said. “She didn’t stay because she didn’t like that I was getting it, but she still allowed me to get it. She liked the drawing when I took it to her.”

330 inscription on back of neck

Where: Hollowed Ground Tattoo, Massillon, Ohio

When: After high school graduation

Porrini’s close relationship with friends from Massillon prompted him and his friends to get the same tattoo on the back of their necks. The identical 330 tattoo can now be seen across the world. Porrini’s best friend, who is currently in Serbia, has the tattoo on his neck. So does Porrini’s cousin, who is transferring to the University of Hawaii after playing football at the University of Michigan.

“We all got the 330, same print, same area and location,” Porrini said. “That just symbolizes our friendship, and no matter where we’re at, we’re all representing the 330, where we’re from.

“Wherever we go, we know people will see that,” Porrini said. “To us, it’s more than just 330 on our neck. It’s where we’re from. It’s our roots, our friendships that we built, our community and our family.”

Crown over “Porrini” on back, below “330”

Where: Hollowed Ground Tattoo, Massillon, Ohio

When: 2008

Porrini made a modification to his back tattoo by having a crown tattooed under his 330 and over a tattoo of his last name.

“That’s just a symbolization that I’m the king, King Porrini, and king of my city,” Porrini said with a smile. “I want to go out as one of the best who ever came out of Massillon for basketball, and not only for basketball, but success as well.”

Brothers’ names

Where: North Carolina

When: While attending Western Carolina

Porrini is one of three boys in his family, and he let that be known while attending Western Carolina. The inside of both his left and right biceps are tattooed with each of his brothers’ names, which he says are the most important tattoos on his body.

“We were raised by just our mother and our grandparents,” Porrini said. “I’m their father-figure, role model. Whatever I do, whether it be good or bad, it’s going to dictate how they are. I just want to always be able to say that I was there for them, never lied to my little brothers and if they ever needed anything, I was there.

“They push me, and looking down at Jarrod and Corey on my arms, it pushes me because I know that they’re watching me and they want me to do good as bad as I want to.”

State of Ohio with roots protruding from bottom to form 330

Where: Kent, Ohio

When: Fall semester 2011

Porrini’s first homegrown tattoo was written on his forearm. Porrini’s friend from Kent drew his tattoo of the state of Ohio with roots protruding from the southern tip of the state to form a 330. Inside the state is the phrase “Da Milk,” which is a nickname for the city of Massillon. Outside of the state is the phrase, “My city within me.”

“I told myself I’d never go below my elbows, but you know, that’s why you have a collared shirt, I guess,” Porrini said with laughter.

“That’s just a symbolization of where you start from,” Porrini said. “It’s just something that he and I came up with, and I saw it and I liked it.

“I was raised in the Massillon/Canton, Stark County area,” Porrini said. “Without that, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

“Respect all, fear none” across chest

Where: Columbus, Ohio

When: 2008

Porrini’s only chest tattoo, an inscription that reads “Respect all, fear none,” was painful, but significant in his life after leaving Western Carolina during his freshman year.

“It was like a little inspirational quote for me when I was down and out, trying to get back to Division I [basketball],” Porrini said. “It hurt, so it meant a lot more than just a quote. I went through the pain with that and I was able to bounce back and get back on the right path after that.

“No matter what I have going on, I have to respect everybody,” Porrini said. “At the same time, with respecting them I have to know how much respect they get, so you fear nobody.”

Religious mural of sailor being pulled out of sea by Jesus

Where: Hollowed Ground Tattoo, Massillon, Ohio

When: Started 2009, finished 2011

Porrini surrounded his original cross tattoo with a religious mural that includes a sailor that has been thrown overboard and is struggling to stay above water. He drew inspiration for the tattoo from a verse in the Bible and told a tattoo artist about the verse. The artist showed him a picture of the verse, and Porrini asked the artist to draw it on him.

“This is a sailor and in the background is his boat,” Porrini said. “He’s kind of drowning and he’s asking for God’s help, and God’s hand is down there helping him out of a tough spot that he’s in.

“All of them are my favorite, but I know my grandmother would have liked this one the most,” Porrini said. “She didn’t want me to have tattoos in the first place, but she told me if I was to do it, then do something from the Bible.”

Psalms 101:7 verse

Where: Hollowed Ground Tattoo, Massillon, Ohio

When: 2011

Porrini continued the religious theme with a tattoo of a line from Psalms 101:7, which reads “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell in my house; he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.”

“I was told a lot of things throughout my entire life,” Porrini said. “People lied to me. I was raised by just my mother and my grandparents. There was no father figure for me as a positive role model. I had to learn on my own.

“When I was told a lie when I was younger, it hurt a lot. I try to keep what I say to be true — I don’t want to go out as a liar. That’s why I got that tattooed. I felt it was a great time for me to get that tattoo to remind me to do right and not be like those who did wrong to me.”

Son’s footprints on left forearm

Where: Hollowed Ground Tattoo, Massillon, Ohio

When: October 2011

Porrini, a father of two, has his infant son’s footprints tattooed on his left forearm.

“To have your first baby boy, it’s a blessing,” Porrini said. “ … I got them because it means a lot to be able to look down at my arm and remember all the stuff that I’m playing for.”

Wrist phrases

Where: Hollowed Ground Tattoo, Massillon, Ohio

When: October 2011

His left and right wrists are surrounded with two simple phrases that are the basis of Porrini’s life today. The first reads “Family, friends, forever.” The second phrase reads “Live, love life.”

“If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I wouldn’t be where I’m at,” Porrini said. “I have to say thank you to everybody, and that’s why they’re there.”

(In reference to second phrase) “That’s just me — it sums me up,” Porrini said. “You can have a bad day today, but you can always make up for it tomorrow. You can’t worry about it, you’ve just got to move on, be able to live life and at the same time, love the people you’re around.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NickShookDKS.