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The Hurd family tree, tattoo style

Zach Hurd is a proud member of Generation Ink.

But Hurd, UConn's behemoth offensive guard from Waterford, decided to take his first tattoo one step further.

He used it to tell a story … and a big one.

Hurd has honored his family with a sleeve tattoo - covering his right arm from shoulder to wrist - and has spent nearly 100 hours with Johnny Berrios of Nautilus Tattoo in Newington to create his family tree in a colorful mural of ink.

Hurd began the process by searching for sleeve tattoos on the Internet. He contacted one of the world's best sleeve artists, Nick Baxter of Texas, who referred Hurd to Berrios.

"Johnny said, 'Come check out the studio and hang out,'" Hurd said. "We ended up talking for over an hour, exchanging ideas, and I was like, 'This dude is doing my tattoo.' His work is awesome."

Berrios hasn't disappointed.

The tattoo starts at the top of Hurd's shoulder with a picture of his grandmother, Audrey Wright, as an angel.

"She's my angel," Hurd said. "Even when I go home now she gives me advice and takes care of me."

As for other features:

He honors his late father Graham by spelling his name with vertical Old English letters - G.A. HURD.

There is a tree that was planted in his father's memory at the Waterford North Little League field and a baseball bat.

There is a ship honoring Graham's service in the English navy with a flag of Great Britain on one side of the mast and an American flag on other ("that one was for myself," Zach said).

There is a picture of his late grandfather, Victor Wright, wearing his bright red Grenadier Guard uniform, standing in front of Windsor Castle in England.

There is an ocean below the ship with two mermaids, his older sisters Laura and Melissa ("they have always been there for me"), and a giant shark ("I had to have something bad-ass!").

The ocean floor features an open treasure chest featuring his grandfather's initials (VW), his UConn uniform number (78), the number of his late UConn teammate Jasper Howard (6), and the initials "MB" to honor family friend Matt Buriak, a former Ledyard High School football player who died suddenly prior to the Colonels' Thanksgiving Day game in 2009.

The most poignant piece of art, however, is a portrait on his biceps. It shows mother Susan comforting a 4-year-old Zach during a family trip to Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, N.H.

"We were riding this railroad train," Zach explained, "when this guy comes running out of the woods with this shotgun or something and scared the hell out of me." It turned out it was actually "The Wolfman" and part of a theme ride on the White Mountain Central Railroad.

Hurd said he may add something on the front panel of the treasure chest, but for now he is done with tattoos.

And what does his mother think?

"I know she says she doesn't like it," Hurd said. "But she does."

Well, sort of.

"I don't dislike it," Susan said. "But Zachary's skin was so soft and perfect … and now he's got this."

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