Wichita State Shockers

How Fred VanVleet is making a lasting impression on Toronto Raptors’ fans

Fred VanVleet’s hometown goes wild at watch party after Raptors win NBA Finals

A watch party in Fred VanVleet's hometown of Rockford, Ill., went wild as he and the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Finals.
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A watch party in Fred VanVleet's hometown of Rockford, Ill., went wild as he and the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Finals.

Fred VanVleet’s popularity has never been higher in Toronto after his standout performance in the NBA Finals to help the Raptors capture their first NBA championship.

And now a Raptors’ superfan in Toronto will have VanVleet’s face — an iconic image of him screaming with a bandage under his right eye — on his body forever after getting it tattooed on his leg at FY Ink Tattoos in Toronto.

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A Toronto Raptors fan recently had Fred VanVleet’s face tattooed on his leg at FY Ink Tattoos in Toronto. @FYInkTattoos (Instagram) Screen grab

Video of the completed tattoo was published by the FY Ink Instagram page and eventually made its way to VanVleet, who shared it with his 585,000 followers on Instagram in a post on Monday.

FY Ink owner Lee Baxter told The Eagle that the “high-level, realism art” tattoo took approximately seven hours to complete and was the first one he has seen of VanVleet specifically.

“I haven’t seen a Fred one before, but we’ve got a ton of requests of athletes after they win something,” Baxter said. “Obviously, Kawhi (Leonard) was a popular one after winning the MVP, but now what’s happening is we’re seeing a lot of people come in and ask for multiple players.”

But it didn’t surprise him that someone would want a tattoo of VanVleet, who has soared in popularity since scoring a playoff career-high 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter and five three-pointers, in the Raptors’ close-out win in the NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors.

Former Wichita State star Fred VanVleet gave The Eagle an exclusive interview before Game 4 in the NBA Finals. VanVleet spoke about his WSU career, his breakout success for the Toronto Raptors and becoming a father again.

Toronto fans also took a special liking to VanVleet after he played through multiple injuries, including a chipped front tooth and a laceration on his face.

That has made VanVleet something of a cult hero in Toronto, as he’s capitalized on his skyrocketing popularity by doing more endorsement deals and commercials in the Toronto area. Wrestling legend Bret “The Hit Man” Hart recently took to the Raptors’ official Twitter to congratulate VanVleet on his championship performance.

“He’s definitely one of the most popular Raptors right now,” Baxter said. “I think it’s even growing now because he’s putting a lot of emphasis on marketing outside of basketball. The whole thing with the tooth and the cut under the eye made him a real likeable underdog story and I think all of the fans loved that about him.”

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