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Arizona basketball: The story behind Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's back tattoo

How did Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's back tattoo of himself come to be?

If you're a Twitter user and Arizona basketball fan, you might have seen forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's freshly-inked back tattoo. It's of himself, which is an interesting thing itself. But it's pretty clearly a snapshot of a real scene.

The original photo was taken by Arizona Daily Star photographer Kelly Presnell, and to Presnell's knowledge it's the first time one of his photos was recreated on another person's skin.

"I was kind of baffled," Presnell said by phone on Tuesday. "(Arizona Daily Star director of photography) Rick Wiley called me on the phone, said 'Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is putting your photo on his back,' and I said, 'What?!" And he started laughing - we laughed about it for a while.

"I found it funny," Presnell added. "I'm a little confused about why he'd want to do something like that, but I'm not a big tattoo guy, I guess. I spent my life trying not to get punctured. Certainly one of the weirdest things someone has done with my pictures."

The photo was taken during Arizona's 72-70 win at Michigan on Dec. 14. The Wildcats trailed 62-60 and were keeping the game close despite the Wolverines holding the homecourt momentum. Jefferson drove to the hoop for a layup and earned an and-one after being fouled by Caris LeVert, and that's when the Arizona freshman let out the emotional outburst with about 2:30 to play.

Prenell didn't remember taking the exact photo, and the picture didn't make it into print. It was posted as part of an online gallery.

"I thought I had better pictures of Rondae," Presnell said, "had a couple slam dunks that he might've thought was interesting. I don't know why he picked that particular one."

The Hollis-Jefferson case is certainly unique. On a power rankings scale of odd uses of Presnell's photographs, it probably holds the No. 1 spot -- sports-related or not. There's certainly been other examples of curious inquiries regarding Presnell's work.

"I think it was about three years ago, I can't remember if it was Sean Miller or somebody else - somebody at the UofA called up and wanted a print of a photo I had of ... Kyryl Natyazhko," Presnell said. "Think they wanted a photo because they wanted to use it to show how to play defense, was their explanation.

"I'm used to hearing people cutting (photos) out and putting them on refrigerators or buying them," he added. "I've had people from motor vehicle accidents coming in and saying they want a picture, that kind of stuff. But as far as wanting to put a tattoo on their backs, no."

Presnell hasn't spoken with Hollis-Jefferson about the tattoo, but Star colleagues joke that he should probably sign the forward's new ink the next time he sees him.

There's one problem with that.

"I don't have a tattoo needle on hand," Presnell said.