Dosunmu gets tattoo to honor late friend, Darius Brown


Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu lives life by a motto: “Jet Life.”

To him, the words symbolize staying motivated, living in the moment and striving always for higher achievement. These are fundamental aspects of Dosunmu’s personal development and professional rise, from Morgan Park High School standout to University of Illinois star to an integral piece of his hometown NBA team’s future.

The phrase, though, derives from tragedy. On Aug. 3, 2011, Dosunmu’s best friend Darius Brown, 13, was shot and killed while playing basketball at Metcalfe Park in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago.

Brown, Dosunmu has said, often referred to himself as a “jet.” Ever since his passing, Dosunmu and his circle of friends and family have made the phrase a mantra.

“When he was alive, he always would say he was a jet. That’s just what his motto was. Live life with no regrets, live in the moment,” Dosunmu said in an interview with Bulls TV published in April. “Every time we do something big — me, my brothers, my best friends — we throw our jets up just for him. Make sure he understands that he (is) right here with us.”

During a media session with reporters at the Bulls’ practice facility on Wednesday, Dosunmu was asked about a new tattoo he got on his arm during the offseason, which depicts Darius brandishing his left thumb and pinky finger in the shape of a plane.

“This is my cousin named Darius. He died, he got shot in Metcalfe Park about a decade ago,” Dosunmu said. “Throw this up, this is just ‘Jet Life.’ Just means to stay motivated, keep going.

“This is my motivation for everything I do, so (I) had to get a tattoo here for him. Every day I come out here and play, I do it for him. At a young age, going through that, that pushed me to get to where I am today. So (I) had to get a tattoo for him.”

Dosunmu has honored Darius in myriad ways over the years. 

At Morgan Park and Illinois, he wore the jersey No. 11 because it is the same number Darius wore when they played basketball together as children. (DeMar DeRozan now wears those digits for the Bulls, which led Dosunmu to switch to 12.)

Two months ago, Dosunmu even hosted a community block party at Metcalfe Park in celebration of Darius’ life.

Now, he carries his friend on his arm everywhere he goes.

NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson contributed to this report.

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