|ESPN.com: Skateboarding||[Print without images]|
Rapper and skateboarding enthusiast Lil Wayne recently added two new tattoos to his face. He got Baker Skateboards' "Baked" logo on the right side of his forehead and, below that, closer to his right eye,a small Deathwish Skateboards logo. Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter Jr., already had New York-based 5Boro Skateboards' pigeon logo near his right ear.
Lil Wayne made headlines last fall when he announced he was quitting rapping to pursue skateboarding full time. Since he started skating, Lil Wayne has had a park built in New Orleans, endorsed Supra Footwear and Mountain Dew and, along the way, became friends with many pro skaters.
Lil Wayne reached out to Baker Skateboards professional Braydon Szafranski by text message to get permission on his new tattoos. Szafranski is known for having a lot of tattoos himself, most notably one of a bat below his right eye, and he was thrilled with the rapper's new ink.
"I was in a bar in Las Vegas with my brother and my friend and I got a text message from Weezy saying, 'I've always been a huge fan of Baker and Shake Junt. Do you think you could ask Andrew Reynolds if I can get a Baker and Shake Junt tattoo?'" Szafranski said. "I hit up Andrew and he said, 'Of course he can.' So I told Weezy we'd be honored if he got the tattoo because we're all fans of his, and for him to be a fan of ours, considering he's a big deal in his own industry, I can't put it into words. So I told him to get either a Baker or a Shake Junt tattoo or to get both.
"To us, that's an honor he would think we were anywhere in that category for him to tattoo us on his head. That takes balls, because we all ride for the company and we're all part of the family and none of us even have it on our faces," Szafranski said.
The response from the rest of the team riders was overwhelmingly positive.
"Everybody was super hyped about it. Everybody that saw it was like, 'This is the coolest thing ever,'" Szafranski said.
Szafranski met Lil Wayne through Brandon Biebel, a professional for Girl Skateboards, and the two of them became friends.
"I don't care what anyone says about him, because when somebody is trying to skateboard, that is awesome. It means you're trying to get into the same thing that we all love and we're all into. The reason why we love it so much is because it's the most fun thing in the world. I totally respect him for that," Szafranski said.
People get tattoos for different reasons, but Szafranski relates to Wayne's reasoning for getting the skateboarding ones.
"All my tattoos explain something that I was into at that time or meant the world to me. Whenever someone tells me I got an ugly tattoo, I just tell them to beat it because they don't know anything about the tattoos themselves. It could be special to me because my little brother might have drawn it," Szafranski said. "As far as Wayne goes, I respect what he's doing because he's really into skateboarding. If you're a fan of Baker, I respect it 100 percent. I have a Baker tattoo. I have a Shake Junt tattoo. I have a Deathwish tattoo. That's my family, I love them."