Most people have an interesting story behind their first tattoo.
Don Jackson’s, however, may take the cake.
“I got my first tattoo when I was 12, and I got my butt whooped for it,” Jackson explained.
“My mom came home and she was really, really mad.”
“My sister was 15 and my big cousin was with her, I walked in the house and I said ‘hey dad tell my sister I can get a tattoo!’ and he said ‘ah, yeah, you can get a tattoo’ jokingly.
“But I took that answer and ran with it, and I went and got a basketball tattooed on my arm with the writing, ‘this game is my life.’”
Back then, as a young man growing up in South Sacramento, Jackson was sure he’d end up in the NBA. And while it may not have worked out that way, the sport is still a huge part of his life. As evidenced by his second basketball-related tattoo: a Sacramento Kings logo.
“I’m a huge fan, and will be until the day I die,” he said. “I’ve never liked any other basketball team, for real. I put South Sacramento on it, too, just because that’s where I’m from. I thought adding the ‘south side’ would be an interesting twist to put on top of it – it’s just home repping.”
Basketball is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Jackson’s tattoos.
“Every single one means something, every single tattoo has a story to tell.”
One story in particular is very close to his heart. A tattoo dedicated to his late cousin, and inspiration to his music career, Anthony.
“My big cousin, rest in peace,” Jackson said.
“He died when I was ten years old. I got this when I was fourteen, my cousin Anthony was really the reason I started rapping, he was the first to start rapping in the family, and I’m just keeping it going.”
On his arm, you’ll find the acronym $WAD.
“It has multiple meanings. Me and my cousin we were big J. Cole fans back in the day, Big dreamers. $WAD started with ‘started with a dollar’, and then it changed to ‘started with a dream’ – but it means both of them.
“It resonates with everybody, everybody started in one place wanting to do something and dreaming to be someone.”
To get to where he was, Jackson leaned on two things: passion and faith.
“I had to get those words because those are the two biggest things that describe me. I have a big faith in God, I wouldn’t say I’m a super religious guy but I definitely pray every night and focus on trying to grow spiritually.
And then passion, when it comes to music, football, whatever I’m doing I try to make sure I put passion into it.”
In the future, Jackson plans to add more pieces; on his ribs, stomach, and more.
Tattoos are a diary to his life, if you will, and the ideas ever-changing.
One thing does remain the same when it comes to his ink, though.
“My mom hates it, I love it.”