Column: Joba Chamberlain shares his life story through tattoos

Joba Chamberlain. Photo by Tony Shek / Flickr

Joba Chamberlain, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska who plays for the Detroit Tigers, explains the meaning of his tattoos:
First, the Tigers reliever has a great sense of humor. Chamberlain took the scar on his right elbow from ligament-replacement surgery and turned it into a smiley face.

"Every situation in life can be a positive," he said. "Everybody thinks it was a negative. But it can never frown, it can only smile. That's the way I approach life."

And he is proud of his heritage — on his right arm, Chamberlain has a tattoo that says, "Chunk Pride." Chamberlain is a descendant of the Ho-Chunk tribe, the Buffalo Clan. "I'm half Native American," he said.

And he is a thinker — across his chest, he has a tattoo of his father and his son with a statement: "True pleasure takes sacrifice."

And he is religious — across his left arm, Chamberlain has a large tattoo of God's hand and a bible verse from Corinthians. "For we walk by faith," Chamberlain says, "not by sight."

Family means everything to him — on his left wrist, he has a tattoo he shares with his sister. "If I look at my sister in the face and if we put our hands together, the tattoos go together," he said.

And he is also sentimental, with a twist — on his right shoulder, he has a tattoo with the two dates when he almost lost his father, Harlan Chamberlain. "Those are two dates my dad was clinically pronounced dead," Chamberlain said. "But he's still here. He's still around. He had walking pneumonia once and an appendix. He was on life support for 13 days the first time, six days the second time. Actually, I got to add another date. His gallbladder exploded."

Get the Story:
Jeff Seidel: Joba Chamberlain's life story told with tattoos (The Detroit Free Press 10/1)

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