“We felt this really embodies how we feel about each other,” said King.
Years before his passing, Regina King and her late son Ian Alexander Jr. showed their love for one another with complementary tattoos. Before he left for college, King, 52, and her son, both were inked with the same Aramaic phrase, the actress revealed to Vulture in 2015. Their identical tattoos read "unconditional love." Unfortunately, Ian died by suicide on January 20, 2022, a day after turning 26.
“His is huge, from his elbow to his wrist, but he said, ‘No, you can’t get that size, Mom!’” King laughed at the time. “We considered different ones, but we felt this really embodies how we feel about each other.”
In 2017, King spoke candidly on The View about their tattoos, per PEOPLE. She shared at the time that after completing Kabbalah studies, she and Ian decided to get matching tattoos. "He said, let's choose three designs each and not tell each other which ones they are, and whichever one is matching, that's the one we're going to get tattooed — and we both chose unconditional love," King said.
Ian's passing was confirmed by King in a statement she gave back in 2022. He was her only child. She had him with her ex-husband, Ian Alexander Sr. "Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian," King said in the statement. "He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you."
King and her son had a tight relationship, and the actress shared in 2011 that "being a mom to Ian"—who she referred to as "an amazing young man"—was "the greatest part" about herself.
In January 2023, one year after her late son Ian Alexander Jr.'s suicide, Regina King paid tribute to him, per PEOPLE. The actress, 52, posted a heartfelt tribute to Ian on her Instagram page, captioning a video of an orange sky lantern she had lighted in memory of her son, who would have celebrated his 27th birthday that day. "January 19th is Ian's Worthday," King wrote. "As we still process his physical absence, we celebrate his presence. We are all in different places on the planet, and so is Ian. His spirit is the thread that connects us."
For the Oscar winner and her late son, the color of the paper lantern King lit with a candle had special significance. "Of course, orange is your favorite color," she said. "It's the fire and the calm." The actress reiterated the same sentiment she expressed in 2011, adding, "I see you in everything I breathe. My absolute favorite thing about myself is being Regina the mother of Ian the GodKing. Continue to shine bright, my guiding light."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Emma McIntyre