Jagger EatonNewsSkateboarding

Skateboarder Jagger Eaton’s Tattoos Are ‘A Total Expression Of Who I Am As A Person’

by Steve Drumwright

Jagger Eaton competes during the men's street preliminaries at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo. (Photo by Getty Images)

While growing up, Jagger Eaton often received little notes from one of his grandfathers. It could have been his birthday, a special event or just a random occasion. And the messages from Grandpa Doug were often poignant, which made his relationship with the young skateboarding star that much more special.

So when Grandpa Doug passed away a couple years ago, Eaton wanted a way to keep his memory close. Eaton, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s street event, found the perfect way to do that when he stumbled upon Grandpa Doug’s last note, which was tucked into a birthday card in the toolshed at Jagger’s Mesa, Arizona, home.

“Jagger: The best to you. Keep doing good things. You are a real good brother and son. I love you, Doug,” the note read.

Eaton, now 22, knew those were the words to remember his grandfather by, so to memorialize Grandpa Doug he had them tattooed to his right chest, a spot he sees every day in the mirror.

“I know when he passed away, I wanted to get something dedicated to him because of the man that he was to me and the inspiration that he always gave to me,” Eaton said.

It was the latest tattoo for Eaton, the first skateboarder to win world titles in both the street and park events, who calls his collection of artwork “a total expression of who I am as a person.” The choice also helped convince his mother, Shelly Schaerer, a former U.S. national team gymnast, that tattoos weren’t all that bad.

“When I got that tattoo — my mom always said she never wanted me to get tattoos — and when I showed her that tattoo, she started crying,” Eaton said. “It was kind of a full-circle moment of a note that really inspires me, but also it was one that kind of bonded me and my grandfather when he passed away.”

That isn’t the only tattoo on Eaton’s body. His right leg is covered in pieces that pay homage to his home state of Arizona. One is the word “Arizona” down his shin; he also has a roadrunner on his calf, an eagle on the left side of his thigh, and a skull with a cowboy boot, a rose and the Arizona flag on the right side of his thigh.

In addition to the tribute to his grandpa, there is the word “Western” at the top of his chest and another skull with a cowboy hat on the left side of his chest. On the left side of his ribcage, another tattoo marks his earliest athletic achievements, winning the Tampa Am and Tampa Pro. That was the first tattoo he got at 18, following the Tampa Pro victory. His Tampa Am triumph came at age 13.

“That was my [first] taste of tattoos and how much they hurt,” Eaton said with a reflective chuckle. “It was also a big maturity moment for me because it was my first real big accomplishment in the pro league. It all went up from there.”

All the symbols on his body have a meaning to Eaton, something he stresses should be important when getting a tattoo. (Although, he doesn’t have a problem with an “impulsive, fun” one.)

“I gather so much inspiration from my tattoos, and I think it’s because of the fact that I’m very comfortable and confident in my own skin,” Eaton said. “I’m really proud of my tattoos. I feel like a lot of people constantly contemplate their tattoos and they’re worried about what others think. I’ve never been one to worry about what anybody else thinks.”

The artwork on Eaton’s body does come at a price: pain.

“I would say the pain level is moderate to severe, but how long can you endure the pain?” Eaton said. “That’s what I would tell the beginners. Because every time I get asked about my tattoos, they always ask if it hurts. The one on my left side of my ribcage hurt so bad where I was almost in tears on the table. But then you have ones like on your leg where it’s just like moderate pain but for about three or four hours.”

What is the next tattoo for Eaton? With the Olympic Games Paris 2024 exactly one year away as of Wednesday, he wants to get the Olympic rings on his back and start stockpiling his medal count.

Skateboarding made its Olympic debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and Eaton’s bronze in the men’s street event was the historic first for Team USA in the sport. After winning a men’s park gold medal over the weekend at the X Games in California, Eaton’s eyes are set on the Olympic qualifier in Switzerland in September.

“I’ve been trying to find a place to put the Olympic rings and where to do it all,” Eaton said. “I also want to do something regarding the medal because the medal is just a work of art. ... I want to get my whole back done in the timeline of my career and have the medal kind of signify the whole the whole piece.”

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