Memphis Grizzlies' James Johnson talks neck tattoos - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Grizzlies' James Johnson talks neck tattoos

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC - TV) - They say never judge a book by its cover, or in the case of James Johnson, Memphis Grizzly, his tattoo. 

"I knew every time I looked in the mirror, I wanted to remind myself who I'm for it for," said Johnson. 

Naymin, the name of Johnson's young son, was a little anxious to make his entrance into the world. 

"My son, he was 6 weeks early, in the NICU, I saw lots of parents come in, and I saw a lot of them going.  It was a scary sight.  You never know.  But he's a little fighter," said Johnson.

A fitting title, coming from his dad, whose abilities on the court for the Grizzlies are proven. 

But, before he was an NBA star, Johnson learned and excelled at Kempo freestyle martial arts, a skill he learned from his dad.  He would eventually become a 2nd degree black belt after earning a 20-0 record in kickboxing.

"The discipline was crazy.  From the house to the garage, he was no longer daddy, he was Mr. Johnson," said Johnson. 

Discipline, he says, helped in his chosen career path. 

Since being drafted 16th overall in the 2009 draft, Johnson bounced from Chicago, to Toronto, to Sacramento, and finally the D league, before getting his chance with the Grizzlies, a perfect fit on both sides.

"From being the guy that was always traded to ‘Hey, James we love your game, thanks for what you did for Memphis.' They have no idea what Memphis did for me," said Johnson.  Which brings us back to the ink, and a stick on tattoo giveaway for the fans, who have embraced Johnson since day one.

Just don't expect little Naymin to follow in daddy's footsteps, at least with the neck tattoo. 

"I'm going to tell him, no he's not," said Johnson.  "I'm definitely not going to let him.  Hypocrite!  Good parenting," he added. 

Johnson is not guaranteed a spot on the team beyond this season, but like he has done his whole life, he plants to fight for what he wants.

"I would love to stay here, no matter what it takes, what I have to do.  This winning attitude, the fans, the grit, the grind, the no bluff, I love it all," said Johnson.

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