he Sooners have a lot of ink on them. Many of the players on Oklahoma’s roster have tattoos, and a lot of tattoos have a story behind them. I set out to find the stories behind some of the most unique and interesting tattoos on the team.
A lot of the tattoos have deep meanings behind them and represent family members both here and gone, while some have cultural meanings. Here are the stories I found behind some of the unique tattoos I’ve seen.
re Norwood’s mom never wanted a tattoo.
But one day, Tre suggested to his mother, Shea, the two get matching tattoos. The two went and got it done two days after Tre’s 18th birthday, just a few months before he had to head to college.
“When a child comes to you, there’s no love like that that you have for your child, and so, without any hesitation, I was just in. I was absolutely in,” Shea said. “I just thought ‘wow’ that’s the best way to really say it. My son — you don’t ever doubt that your kids love you — but wow he really loves his mom.”
Shea, a nurse, wanted to get something simple, so they got a symbol that means mother and son on their wrists. The big half circle is the mother holding the son, the smaller half circle.
“My mom, after we had established that we were going to actually do it, she looked up some ideas,” Tre said. “And this is one that she likes, and of course it’s what my mama likes so I’m going to go with it.”
Tre, a sophomore cornerback, has several other tattoos on his left arm, including one in remembrance of the man he’s named after.
When Shea was pregnant with her first child, a boy, her husband wanted to name him Michael after himself, but she wanted to name him Caleb because there were already enough Michaels in her Catholic family.
Then Shea got a call from her father-in-law — also named Michael — and he did what her husband couldn’t.
“He always felt like Tre was going to be great, so he wanted somebody to carry on his name as a grandchild,” Shea said. “He’s such a man of strength and humility, he’s one of the smartest men I’ve ever met. It just instantly changed my mind.”
So the Norwoods named their son Michael Wayne Norwood III, and he goes by Tre.
Tre and his grandfather, known as Pawpaw, were “thick as thieves,” Shea said. Pawpaw put a football in Tre’s hospital crib when he was born and was the principal of his school from seventh to ninth grade.
When he died in June 2015 from bladder cancer, Tre wanted to do something for the man who meant so much to him. When Tre’s uncle spoke at the funeral, he ended it with “Be like Mike.” Tre decided to get that as his first tattoo, along with the tattoo he got with his mom. Tre and his father both got “Be like Mike” tattoos the same day he and his mom got their matching tattoos.
“We were super close,” Norwood said. “I miss him all the time, think about him all the time. He was a great role model, great leader. He was always in my life, and he just taught me a lot of things within sports and just life in general.”
illon Faamatau had sat and watched two of his older brothers get tattooed by his cousin Wuki one day when he decided it was his turn.
“Hey, can I get a tattoo?” Faamatau, now a redshirt junior defensive tackle, asked.
“All right, well this one, I’m going to make it mean something,” Wuki said.
Faamatau, who was heading into his junior year of high school at the time, wanted his cousin to choose something that he thought represented him. His cousin came up with a lion.
“I asked him to give me something that he thought resembles me,” Faamatau said, “And he chose to put a lion on my arm.”
The tattoo took eight hours, and Faamatau sat through it with no breaks. Wuki drew the lion free hand. Faamatau wasn’t worried about how the tattoo was going to turn out though, having seen the work his cousin had done on his brothers.
Faamatau also has other tattoos, but the designs aren’t finished yet, and he can’t tell the story behind them until they are done.
“The meaning is not completely done until the tattoo is complete,” he said.
As for the meaning of the lion, Faamatau has some ideas about why his cousin picked it.
“I feel like he probably chose the lion because, like they say, the lion is the king of the jungle,” Faamatau said.
Faamatau has a thick, curly head of hair framing his face in a way that almost resembles a lion’s mane, but that’s not all he wants to have in common with the animal. Faamatau’s goal is to be as respected as a lion is.
“He’s respected by many, and also feared by many,” he said. “I don’t want to say that’s my motto, but I kind of live by that. I don’t want to have many fear me, but I just want to be respected by many.”
amily is important to Bobby.
Several of his tattoos are family oriented, just like he is. One is a saying that reads “Blood makes you related, loyalty makes you family.”
His most meaningful tattoo is on his left forearm and says “Feed the family.” It’s a motto he goes by each day. He got the tattoo with his older brother, Tay, who has the same words on his left bicep.
Bobby, a redshirt junior offensive lineman, and his brothers have always been close. They did a lot of stuff together, even beyond sports, Tay said. Tay and Bobby played at OU together, studied in Italy together and have been roommates since coming to college.
“Family is something that is really important to us,” Tay said. “For us to even come here and play together and go to the same school together, it means a lot, because a lot of people don’t have that relationship with their siblings so to get the opportunity to do some of the things we’ve been able to do together. It’s really been amazing and I’m very grateful for it.”
Last semester, Bobby decided he wanted another tattoo. He was looking around the internet for inspiration when he saw some clocks. He decided he wanted to incorporate the clocks into a tattoo representing his brothers and came up with the idea to make them the times and dates his brothers were born.
The top clock reads 12:41 for the time his younger brother, Jonquae, was born. Jonquae is two years younger than Bobby, and the two shared a room growing up.
The bottom clock is set at 10:36 for Tay, who is one year older than Bobby.
“I thought it was a pretty cool idea,” Tay said of the clocks. “Me and my brothers, we’ve always been close growing up … when he said he was getting that I thought it was pretty cool.”
ru Samia’s tattoo took 15 hours.
Samia, who is half white and half Samoan, wanted a tattoo to represent his culture. He got advice from his uncle, Gilbert, who is like a father figure to him. His uncle has had a Samoan tattoo, and he helped Samia pick a tattoo artist.
Samia, a senior offensive lineman, got the tattoo done during this past summer break, and it took two days for the artist to complete the work on his right arm. He was in the chair for 10 hours the first day and came back the next day for five hours to finish it.
“That’s power hour right there. I don’t know how Dru did it,” said Dillon Faamatau, who has similar tattoos and was impressed with the time Samia spent in the chair to get it done.
Each of the designs has a different meaning to it. One of the designs represents an octopus arm, Samia said. It symbolizes multitasking and being able to take on and juggle different things.
“My tattoo artist went through and explained what each one meant as he was putting it on me, and I just told him my story and he gave me the tattoo that he thought fit me the best,” Samia said.
Samia told the tattoo artist about where he was from, about being half white and half Samoan and about the story of football in his life. Samia said the artist also talked with Gilbert while planning the tattoo, and his uncle was there with him for the beginning and the whole second day while he was getting it done.
“I always wanted something to kind of show my culture and kind of be proud of it because I guess I don’t look the most Samoan,” Samia said. “But now that I have this on my arm, I can kind of represent my culture.”
hen Curtis Bolton was in fourth grade, his father was diagnosed with cancer.
His father had multiple myeloma, or bone marrow cancer, and was given three months to live. However, Bolton’s dad, also named Curtis, fought until 2011, when Bolton was a freshman in high school.
“That’s another thing why I don’t quit. They gave him three months to live and he stretched it out to six years,” Bolton, a redshirt senior linebacker, said. “I have no excuse to quit on anything after witnessing something like that.”
His father’s death has driven him, he said, and added more fuel to his fire.
Bolton gets a lot of inspiration from his father, who was in the Navy when Bolton was growing up. He would leave the house for work at 3 a.m., Bolton said, get home at 5 p.m. and then come to practice to coach him.
When he died, the military gave his family a box with his rank, accomplishments and other things. Included in the box was the photo his father took when he first joined the Navy, and Curtis decided to get that tattooed on his chest. He plans to add more around the portrait in the future.
“I just wanted something to remember him by,” Bolton said. “You know everybody has the little memorial piece.”
Bolton’s best friend’s big brother, Daniel, gave him that tattoo, and his others. He wanted to get it done by someone he trusted and he wanted it to be as detailed as possible. It took about three hours to get done, Bolton said.
In addition to the memorial to his father, Bolton also has several other pieces, one is a praying angel with wings that is dedicated to his late grandmother.
He also has a Bible verse, a cross and a warrior from the movie “300.” On the back of his left bicep, Bolton has a tattoo that combines two things that are important to him. The tattoo is a crucifix with Jesus on it, but the cross has been replaced with an anchor to honor his dad’s 20 years in the Navy.
“I consider myself a godly man, too,” Bolton said. “The most important figures in my life are Jesus Christ and my father.”