NBA Players With Face Tattoos (5 Popular Players)

Facial tattoos have long been a major taboo across mainstream American culture. But within the NBA landscape, that stigma seems to be evolving rapidly. More and more prominent NBA players are embracing facial ink to shape their personal brands both on and off the court.

While body tattoos are nothing new in basketball, facial tattoos grab attention like nothing else. These five popular NBA players stand out from their inked peers for their eyebrow-raising facial designs.

5 NBA Stars Sporting Eye-Catching Face Tattoos

Facial tattoos have historically been taboo across American culture. But within the modern NBA landscape, perceptions seem to be shifting as more players embrace custom face ink. Let’s examine 5 NBA Players standouts who have grabbed attention for their audacious and edgy facial tattoo designs that amplify their personal brands on and off the hardwood.

1. Chris “Birdman” Andersen

The eccentric center’s fitting “Birdman” persona matches his famously feathered skin tattoo covering his neck, cheek and temple. Andersen added the bold facial ink in 2008 to his collection of avian-themed tattoos.

NBA fans had mixed reactions to his facial tattoo at first. But his stellar play and energy with the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat quickly made his ink mark one of the most iconic in the league. Andersen’s facial tattoo caps his overall tattoo theme and has made him one of the NBA’s most popular players with face tattoos.

2. DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan

In 2017, the Los Angeles Clippers all-star center surprised fans by debuting a new facial tattoo – a stylized Torah script running down the left side of his face. Jordan is a member of the Black Hebrew Israelite religious group, and views his facial tattoo as an expression of his faith.

Jordan’s facial ink garnered significant attention across sports media and social platforms. Many fans saw it as an edgy extension of Jordan’s persona. Others criticized the tattoo as “too extreme” for an NBA star competing for endorsements. But Jordan’s response? “I have way more support than negativity.”

3. Lou Williams

Lou Williams
Lou Williams

In recent years Lou Williams has cemented his status as one of the league’s premiere scorers off the bench. He also sports one of the NBA’s most talked-about facial tattoos.

In 2018, Williams had “SIX” tattooed in stylized red letters stretching down the right side of his face as a tribute to his hometown of Atlanta. The tattoo kicked off a torrent of media buzz and fan chatter given Williams’ rising stardom.

Lou Williams stated the “SIX” face tattoo matches his brand identity as a proud Atlanta native. It shows that facial ink in the NBA extends beyond just creative body art. For Lou Will, it symbolizes expressing deeper personal meaning.

4. J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith

The Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard is arguably the NBA’s most heavily tattooed player. In 2015, he added to his astonishing ink count that practically covers his entire upper body by getting “Supreme” tattooed boldly on his neck right below his jaw.

Smith explained the distinctive face tattoo matches his long-time obsession with Supreme apparel and need to “stand out, be different”. JR Smith’s neck tattoo sparked viral discussion given Supreme’s global hype-beast status.

Many fans saw Smith’s neck tattoo as the evolution of player branding through integrating symbols of street culture. Others labeled it as more fruitless controversy stoking the shooting guard’s checkered past.

5. Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson

The recent NBA Hall of Fame inductee will forever be remembered as bringing hip hop culture into basketball’s mainstream during his legendary career. Allen Iverson sported his iconic face tattoo – a bulky cross on his right arm neighboring a scroll saying “Only The Strong Survive” – throughout the prime of his NBA stardom in the late 90s and 2000s.

The prominent arm sleeve with facial tattoo projected Iverson’s persona as a hard-nosed underdog and cemented his legacy as one of basketball’s most influential style icons.

Iverson’s facial tattoo lowered barriers to entry for facial ink being adopted by future generations of NBA stars looking to stand out from their peers.

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The Future of Facial Ink in the NBA

The above players showcase how perceptions around face tattoos are clearly evolving rapidly across the NBA landscape. What used to be seen as taboo and even career-damaging body art is now becoming critical to shaping player brands.

Younger stars like Jordan Clarkson and Willie Cauley-Stein have continued the facial tattoo trend for the next generation. Their bold ink fits with edgy aesthetics appealing younger fans on and off the court.

But facial tattoos likely still have an uphill battle for mainstream cultural acceptance. Despite pioneering stars like Lou Williams, critics argue face tattoos negatively impact marketability – especially regarding coveted endorsement deals.

Only time will tell if rising stars can overcome old stereotypes that facial tattoos attract. But the NBA culture seems poised to keep breaking perceptions and redefining aesthetics in basketball for decades to come.


Facial tattoos have long carried stigma, but perceptions are evolving in the NBA. While body ink is commonplace across the league, facial tattoos still grab major attention. We spotlight 5 trendsetting NBA stars with bold facial tattoos that amplify their personal brands. 

Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s face tattoo caps his ‘avian asylum’ body art theme. DeAndre Jordan’s religious facial tattoo sparked debate across NBA media. Lou Williams’ “SIX” face tattoo reps his Atlanta roots. JR Smith’s neck Supreme logo tattoo fits his hypebeast reputation. And Allen Iverson’s iconic face/arm tattoo cemented his underdog legacy. 

Today’s NBA stars use facial tattoos for self-expression. But critics contend facial ink damages marketability. Still, pioneering NBA players are breaking perceptions and redefining aesthetics in basketball culture. More stars appear poised to join the facial tattoo club.

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