Brandon James Bird's Two Percent

Show us your ink! MARKED is our new series where we ask locals of all ages, professions and backgrounds to roll up their sleeves, pant legs, and so much more to reveal their marks. Here are their stories:

Name: Brandon James Bird Age: 25

My Neck Piece: I got just a week ago, to commemorate my, so far, successful speaking career. The tattoo is of two diamonds and a quote "two percent." It's simple, no artistic masterpiece, but its the meaning people seem to think is pretty cool.

When I was 18 a doctor told me there was a 98 percent chance I'd be dead before I was 21. At the time I was hopelessly addicted to opiates, I had just had a heart attack (yes at 18), was anemic, had one dying kidney, had just been arsenic poisoned by a gang that wanted me dead. I was a good 20 pounds underweight.

The 98 percent didn't actually factor in the health concerns, 98 percent is actually the mortality rate for intraveinous opiate users. At the time I didn't believe that the drug killed that many people. Eventually it killed my girlfriend, my best friend and several other friends. I'm all that's left of my old crowd -- an unlikely part of the surviving 2 percent. The number is no joke.

Check out more of Bird's marks after the jump ...

You can say the diamonds symbolize my life now. My past is an ugly, dark and worthless thing like a chunk of discarded carbon. I decided to do something with it though, I tell my story to middle and high school kids through a non for profit. My past has become a tool for inspiring kids to make better choices than I did.

So, in a way my history took the kind of transformation of carbon becoming diamond. My ugly past is the most beautiful thing I have now, nothing feels better than knowing I can make an impact.

Next tattoo?

I'm getting a couple tattoos next week actually. One is on the front of both my calves. "LONE" on one side and "WOLF" on the other. Not because Im a loner but because of the old German parable of the lone wolf. In the story, a weak and seemingly pitiful wolf is rejected by its pack and left for dead. The wolf barely survives but eventually becomes strong. Surviving on his own without peers made him very powerful. One day he returned to the pack that rejected him, killed the alpha male and mated with the alpha female. It was his surviving a rougher life than all the other wolfs that made him the king over them all. I really like this wolf, he sounds like I'd get along with him!

The other tattoo is on my chest. A lot of guys get eagles tattooed on their chest because eagles look cool as tattoos I guess. I think its kind of vain deciding that something as majestic and powerful as an eagle represents yourself. So, I picked a bird, like the lone wolf, with which I could relate. I chose a vulture. Vultures do not have it easy, they are looked down upon and they are clearly not born into glory like Eagles. However, the vulture will be wearing a crown on its head to signify that although I was born with many, many predispositions that make being me very difficult; I have overcome these things and am now a leader and respected by those around me. Above the vulture is a scroll (which I already have) "Pro Deus et Patria" (For God and Country in Latin) and the vulture's feet will hold a banner that says "second life" in Latin.

Know of a few creative marks? Send us your photos/suggestions.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton