When Willie Cauley-Stein announced last Monday evening he was returning to Kentucky rather than entering the NBA draft, the 7-foot sophomore didn't just bolster an already formidable Wildcats frontcourt next season.
Cauley-Stein also ensured one Kentucky fan would be making an appointment with a tattoo artist.
Michael Gray, a resident of Richmond, Ky., tweeted last Monday morning that if Cauley-Stein came back for his junior season, he'd tattoo the center's face on himself prior to the start of the new season. When Cauley-Stein responded to Gray's tweet asking him to put it in writing, the Kentucky fan responded succintly, "Word is bond."
It would have been easy for Gray to laugh off his tweet as a joke once Cauley-Stein revealed his surprising decision to stay in school despite being a near lock to be selected in the first round of the draft. Instead Gray tweeted Cauley-Stein that he planned to fulfill his promise.
"Man of my word," Gray wrote. "Looks like I need to be setting up an appointment."
Sure enough, Gray visited Quality Custom Tattoos in Somerset, Ky. on Saturday. Not only did he put Cauley-Stein's face on his body as promised, the tattoo he chose turned out to be big enough to cover most of his lower right calf.
“Some people on the Internet said it didn’t look like him but it’s a stencil directly of a picture," Gray told WKYT on Sunday. "I was really happy, it looked really good.”
Gray, of course, is not the first Kentucky fan to make headlines for a tattoo this spring.
Tyler Austin Black, a 22-year-old machinist from Richmond, Ky., took a leap of faith when times were bleakest for the Wildcats, tattooing"2014 Nati9nal Champions" alongside a UK logo on his right calf. Kentucky nearly made him prophetic, going from an underachieving No. 8 seed all the way to the national title game before falling to UConn.
Gray's tattoo is downright normal by comparsion.
Austin-Black's is a reminder of a championship that never happened. Gray's is a reminder of a bold promise fulfilled.
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