With the exception of a maternity ward or most elementary schools, you’re hard pressed to avoid encountering someone who has a meaningful message or memory inscribed in the form of a tattoo. While still being ink-free, I am fascinated by the droves of people in my everyday circles who emblazon inspiration upon their bodies. And since I genuinely love people, I find myself drawn to their stories. I’m curious about their ink inscriptions, and the backstory behind each tattoo. From time to time, I hope to honor those people, and their unique stories, right here.
Damn Near Manute Bol.
-Stories in Ink: 8.5.17
You’ll likely encounter Kacper (pronounced Casper) working at the park district where he oversees the rental of kayaks, canoes, and fishing equipment to be used in the park’s waters. I was taken by his quiet demeanor, yet obvious strength of character. He was articulate, helpful, and obviously has still waters of his own that run deep. On his right bicep he wears the phrase:
damn near Manute Bol
Now I’m pretty sure my friend Kacper was born after Manute retired from basketball in 1995, and it was likely not Bol’s athletic career that inspired the tattoo. Apparently the reference comes from a song by Mick Jenkins, but the phrase points to some of the specific traits that Bol possessed.
Listed at 7’7″, he was one of the two tallest men to ever play in the National Basketball Association, and was arguably the greatest shot blocker in the history of the league. Despite his imposing size, he was a gentle giant, and made his real impact off the court, as a giant-hearted humanitarian.
Bol used his celebrity to play hockey, get in the boxing ring, and suit up as a horse jockey, all in an effort to raise funds and awareness to help build schools and promote peace in his native country, the war torn Sudan. He spent all of his wealth and energies to that end, overcoming obstacles and blocking shots to help open doors and opportunities for legions of people that came after him. It is no wonder that the name Manute means “special blessing”.
Bol tended his family’s cattle during his childhood. He often told others that he once killed a lion with a spear after it had attacked his cows. He was an extraordinary individual, of whom friend Charles Barkley once said “If everyone in the world was a Manute Bol, it’s a world I’d want to live in.”
damn near Manute Bol
This seems like a genuinely purposeful life to aspire to, and when you meet Kacper, you’ll quickly notice he is a formidable young man. Not because his physique is towering, but instead his spirit is stout, and his dreams are vast. Like Bol, he isn’t afraid of obstacles, but instead welcomes the challenges ahead, as he makes his own indelible impact on the world around him.