Michael Arevalo is not the first person to tattoo a picture of LeBron James on his body. In fact, as we pointed out yesterday, there are quite a few other people out there who have inked King James into their skin permanently. But on Tuesday night, the 23-year-old college student from Tampa, Fla. got a leg up on all of those people by becoming the first person to approach LeBron in order to show him his LBJ tattoo. And LeBron responded to it by taking a photo with Arevalo and his massive back tattoo and posting it to Instagram. It led to lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of interest in the tatt and led many people to wonder, "Why the #%^$ does that kid have a tattoo of LeBron James on his back?!"
We were amongst those people wondering what Arevalo was thinking when he got the tattoo. On the one hand, it's a pretty cool tattoo, especially when you consider that Arevalo got the chance to meet LeBron and show it to him. But on the other, it's pretty ridiculous to think that Arevalo is going to be walking around in 50 years with that tattoo sprawled across his back. We wanted to find out the story behind it, though. So we reached out to Arevalo and asked him about the origin of the tatt, LeBron's initial thoughts on it, and the reaction that he received when the photo of him and LeBron went viral yesterday.
Interview by Chris Yuscavage (@ChrisYuscavage)
When and where did you get your LeBron James tattoo done?
I started the tattoo last September and finished around mid-October as it took a couple sessions to get through. The art itself was done in Tampa where my friends own their own tattoo shop called Forever Ink Tattoos. My artist is Sergio Londono.
Why did you decide to get the tattoo?
My reason for getting the actual tattoo is that I've been a LeBron fan since he was playing in high school. And I think after his second title, I was like, "I want something to show the fan I am to the greatest player in the world right now." What better way to show it then with my other love of ink?
How did you go about choosing a design for it?
The actual design of the tattoo took a couple months to figure out. But the NBA 2K14 cover gave me the main idea of what it was going to look like. After that, I showed my artist and we just went to work at it.
Did your tattoo artist spend any time trying to talk you out of getting the tattoo?
My artist is a friend of mine. And when he heard what I was trying to get, he was all for it. He is an amazing artist who loves pushing his talents to the top. So when the opportunity came to tattoo a whole back piece of an NBA player, the only thing he had to decide was when we would start.
What did other people think about the idea? I imagine that someone in your circle had to think it was a bad idea.
My close friends and brother knew I had the idea to get something crazy. They truly didn't believe I would do it for awhile, but as the idea really started getting clearer for the design, they started egging me on to get it.
In his Instagram post about the tattoo, LeBron mentioned that you were with your girlfriend when you met him. Did she like the idea for the tattoo?
My girlfriend was completely against me getting it. She hated the idea. But she couldn't change my mind about getting it. Once I got it, she didn't love it on my back, but she was happy that it had come out so nice.
Once the tattoo was done, was it what you were expecting?
I was completely blown away by how amazing it came out. It really was more than I expected.
Okay, so tell me how you managed to meet up with LeBron in Miami earlier this week.
I'm from Tampa, Fla. so me and my girl came down to Miami after we managed to get our hands on some Heat tickets for games against the Wizards and the Nets. On Tuesday, we had the day off, so we were going around Miami checking out the sights and I had mentioned The Juice Spot to my girlfriend [Ed. note: The Juice Bar is owned by LeBron James' wife Savannah.]. My mindset was his wife might be there, so I could show her the tattoo and she would end up showing LeBron. We walked in The Juice Spot and there he was with some family and his kids.
I stood up and showed LeBron my tattoo and he was just like, 'Wow.'
Wow. So you were able to just walk right up to him and show him the tattoo?
At first, I didn't even get to show him the tattoo. I was just in complete shock, being so close to my favorite athlete in the world. When I finally got my senses back, I tried to walk up to him, but a guy who seemed like a friend of LeBron said he did not like to be bothered while he was with his family. So my girl and I sit down and order from the menu with LeBron sitting across from us. My girl asked one of the servers if there was any way we could meet him to show the tattoo. After the server saw the tattoo, she was blown away. A couple minutes later, she tells LeBron's friend to check it out. When he saw it, he called LeBron over. I stood up and showed LeBron my tattoo and he was just like, "Wow." Surprised and amazed. He told me to show it to his parents-in-law and then just said, "We got to take a picture."
After you took it, did he tell you that he was going to put it up on Instagram?
We took pictures with my phone first, of my back and him, then one with him, my girl, and I. After that, he pulled out his phone and took the picture that he posted and another of me and him. I really had no idea he would post it, but I knew he did the second I got back in my car.
What kind of reactions did you get once the photo went viral?
Crazy reactions. Social media has given me reactions ranging from "Amazing tattoo" to "True fan" to some gay slurs as well. My only reaction to it all is that I got to meet my favorite player in the game because of the tattoo.
One reaction I saw a lot was "Wow, that guy is gonna be pissed if LeBron leaves Miami."
No matter what happens next year or the years to come, in Miami or if he leaves to somewhere else, LeBron made history in Miami on the Heat. That will never change.
So you don't think you'll ever regret getting that tattoo?
Never. LeBron will go down as one of the greats. He could retire now and still end up in the Hall of Fame. And actually, the LeBron tattoo isn't finished. See the little bit of space at the bottom? That's where all his rings will end up going.
Wow. So it sounds like you're really not paying attention to any of the negative feedback you've received.
Call me crazy insane. Call me a fan. Call me whatever thing in the world. I met LeBron James and got the opportunity to take a couple pictures with him. My tattoo gave major recognition to my tattoo artist and it's viral. What more could LeBron's biggest fan ask for?