Ryan Rollins’ tattoos tell Warriors rookie story, family’s primary motivation

LAS VEGAS — Ryan Rollins wasn’t completely new to the Bay Area when he first trained for the Warriors at Chase Center ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft, before Golden State spent $2 million dollars to move from No. 51 to No. 44 overall in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks to add the now 20-year-old guard. He was a far cry from his Michigan roots, however.

What kept him grounded and motivated at home in Detroit was what first brought him to The Bay: Family.

“It was different,” Rollins told NBC Sports Bay Area of ​​his first time in San Francisco, on the latest episode of Dubs Talk in an interview during the Las Vegas Summer League. “I like it, for sure. It’s different from the Midwest, though – Detroit, Toledo area. But I like it.

“I’m going to love it for sure. And I have a bit of family there too. I’ve been there before. I wasn’t used to it but I knew what to expect. Yeah, I I’ll like it.”

Family, for Rollins, is everything.

Staying close to his family played a big part in Rollins choosing to play collegiate at Toledo over Kent State and Ball State. Kent State would be more than three to four hours away for Rollins’ parents, Toni and Chris Sr., to watch him play. Ball State would have lasted at least four hours. Toledo, however, was about an hour away for Rollins’ parents to see him thrive and become a legitimate NBA prospect.

Now his new home at Chase Center in San Francisco is more than 2,400 miles from the high school gymnasium in Macomb Township, Michigan, where he played for the Dakota High School Cougars. Having family in Oakland and Vallejo certainly helps alleviate homesickness. And all he has to do is stare at his left arm to remember what keeps him going.

As Rollins raises his left arm during our interview at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, he begins to explain the art that literally depicts wearing your heart on your sleeve.

“That’s the problem with my tattoos: there’s a story with each one,” Rollins says. “It’s my first actually. It’s FOE, it’s Family Over Everything. And it’s kind of like it’s been in my hands since I got the basketball. I can change the life of my family with basketball, because it’s in my hands.”

Once he averaged 13.7 points and was named MAC Rookie of the Year, Rollins began to really see that he could turn his basketball dreams into reality. He then increased his scoring average to 18.9 points as a sophomore, good for a difference of 5.2 points. Leading Toledo to its second consecutive MAC Championship, Rollins flew over the drawing boards.

Then came the June draft, with the Warriors seeing him as a first-round talent and snagging him with the 14th pick of the second round. Drawn below his wrist and above the “E” in FOE is a Spalding basketball with the NBA logo front and center. On July 28, more than a month after the draft, Rollins signed his first professional contract, worth $4.8 million over three years, with the first two years fully guaranteed.

Step 1 of changing his family’s life with basketball was complete.

“And then this one,” Rollins said, looking inside his left forearm. “’Be strong and courageous, be not afraid or discouraged, for the Lord guides us wherever you go.’

“This is a quote that I stick with me, just so I know that God is with me wherever I go. He holds me in a bubble of protection.”

Next to FOE, Rollins has the year of his grandmother’s death engraved in Roman numerals, and flying up to the “F” is a dove, or guardian angel as he describes it, for his grandmother.

His ink is his story, what is closest and dearest to him.

“Yeah, all my tattoos have stories,” he said. “It’s kind of me in a way.”

RELATED: When Rollins’ NBA Future Became Clear for Warriors Rookie

When Rollins arrived on campus in Toledo in 2020, he was tattoo-free. With the growth of his game came the growth of Rollins the person on and off the court. The beginning of his half-sleeve corresponded to this maturation.

At 18, Rollins was ready for his body to no longer be a blank slate. Long before, he knew that family would be his ultimate guide and inspiration.

Hanging his Warriors No. 2 jersey on his spindly stature, that’s just the start for Ryan and the rest of the Rollins squad.

“Family is my main thing in life,” Rollins said. “That’s one of my main goals in life – just changing their lives with my abilities and just giving back.

“Honestly, that’s what I want to do.”

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