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Thursday, February 6, 2014
Griz tattoo giveaway honors Johnson

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

In what is believed to be a first, the Memphis Grizzlies are giving away fake neck tattoos later this month.

The first 5,000 fans into the team's Feb. 21 home game against the Los Angeles Clippers will receive a clear sticker with the word "GRIZZLIES" to go on their neck in celebration of one of Memphis' newest surprises, forward James Johnson.

Grizzlies sticker
The first 5,000 fans into Memphis' Feb. 21 home game will get "GRIZZLIES" tattoos for their necks.

Johnson, a five-year league veteran averaging 8.2 points per game, was signed out of the D-League on Dec. 16. He has quickly turned into a fan favorite thanks to his blue-collar, hardworking mentality, and he leads the league with 15 blocked 3-pointers.

Johnson got a tattoo of the words "NAYMIN 3.9.13" on his neck last March. It was in honor of his son, Naymin, who was born six weeks early and was fighting for his life in intensive care.

"Life changed for me after that," Johnson said. "Life wasn't about only me anymore. After that day, the head on my shoulders was different from what it was before."

Naymin pulled through, and Johnson said his son will turn 11 months old on Saturday, already weighing 24 pounds.

"The tattoo he got wasn't a symbol of toughness," Grizzlies chief operating officer Jason Wexler said. "It was a transformational moment in his life, and that resonates with our fans and fits in with everything we are."

While tattoos used to be somewhat controversial, Wexler said many fans now embrace the stories that are on players' bodies.

Johnson scored a season-high 17 points in the Grizzlies' 110-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.