Amituanai’s ink displays family history


Lauren Gandara

Cerritos College linebacker Donovan Amituanai bares his chest that displays the name of his daughter who is named after his deceased mother. Amituanai is one of several Falcon football players with tribal tattoos.

Lauren Gandara and Lauren Gandara

Inked with the reminder of those closest to him on his arm and chest, Cerritos College linebacker Donovan Amituanai talks about the influence his tattoos has on his life.

Being Samoan and Polynesian, he has two very large tattoos. One is a half sleeve and the other one is across his chest.

He got his first tattoo when he was 18 years old as a graduation present from his father when he graduated at Long Beach Poly High School.

“The one that really stands out is the ‘A’ with the crown, that’s for my last name, Amituanai. It symbolizes loyalty and royalty to my family. It means a lot to me,” he said.

“All the other stuff on my tattoos is also from my father. I wanted to be just like him growing up so I wanted to get the same things that he has on his tattoo. His father had some of the same things so its been passed on from generation to generation”

When turned 21, he got a second tattoo of his daughter’s name on his chest after she was born. He also has angel wings to represent his mother who had passed away when Amituanai was 10 years old. His daughter Aima was named after his mother.

“We Polynesians are strong believers in getting tattoos that mean something, we don’t just put anything on our bodies. Obviously, the things that I have are some things that my family had and I represent it with pride when I play on the field that people can see it on my arm.”

Teammate and quarter back Paul Lopez said that he likes the fact that Amitauanai’s tattoos are about his tribe and have a cultural meaning behind it unlike some people who just get tattoos for the sake of having them.

He added that Amituanai seems to be very passionate about his tattoos because he is also very passionate about his tribe.

“When we do that huddle in the beginning of the game, that’s one way,” Lopez said.

Amituanai said that he got his tattoos in the most sensitive areas on his body because he believes that he should endure pain for the things that mean the most to him.

“Growing up, I saw my father had one and I always just thought it was something cool and as I got older I realized that the things that he had on his arm weren’t just tattoos, it actually meant a lot to him. It had tradition behind it and that’s what I wanted, I wanted something that meant a lot to me.”

Defensive end Ma’ataua Brown is Samoan who also has tribal tattoos. “I think it’s pretty amazing the way his tattoos reflect our culture,” Brown said.

Both on and off the field, Amituanai said that he smiles knowing that he always has those important and influential people with him.

“Whenever I look at them it puts a smile on my face.”

“It makes me work harder when I’m out on the field and I just beat my chest sometimes when I’m on the football field because I know that I have this tattoo on my chest. I know that I’m representing every will. The one on my arm is the one I really like also because it’s something that my father has and I know that he’s with me wherever I go.”