A person need only look as far as Marques Anderson's muscular back to find out what is important to the 24-year-old safety: family, wisdom, virtue, Jesus.
The four most important things in Anderson's life are tattooed on his back, scripted in Japanese. A fifth tattoo in English, the surname "Anderson," stretches across the California native's shoulder blades.
"I got the tattoos because those are the things I really believe in," said Anderson.
Belief itself is something that means a great deal to the UCLA alumnus.
"I grew up in a religious family," the second year pro said in reference to his parents, Maurice and Susan, and sisters Andrea, 25, and Ashley, 16. "My mom actually just got her doctorate in biblical philosophy and education. My faith is something that really keeps me rooted, keeps me grounded."
While religion keeps Anderson grounded spiritually, in actuality, it transported him half way around the world. His desire to put faith into practice took him from the familiar culture of southern California and the UCLA campus to the foreign soil of Nigeria and the Ivory Coast in the summer prior to his junior year of college. He took the trip to the two countries in western Africa as a member of Athletes in Action, a devout group that shares its faith through sports ministry.
"We mingled sharing the word of Christ with teaching different groups - high schools, colleges - the fundamentals of actually playing American football," Anderson said recalling the incredible trip. "Their major sport over there is soccer, but they're like pure athletes. Once we taught them the basics, they ran with it."
Anderson has fond memories of his time in Africa with Athletes in Action, a group he described as a subdivision of Champions for Christ.
"That was a great experience," he said. "Just getting with them and having the actual opportunity at such a young age to get over there and experience something like that was a blessing in my life."
In effect it was Anderson's ability to recognize blessings at a young age that got him interested in sports and his eventual career path.
"All my friends were in sports and everybody that we hung around with played sports," said Anderson, a 2002 finalist for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. "I knew that God had blessed me and my sisters with athletic ability so it was kind of a no-brainer to utilize that when we were young. We've been in sports - track, football, even basketball - since we were little."
It turns out, getting involved in athletics wasn't such a bad idea. Following the example of their father Maurice who was a running back at Oregon (1971-73), the Anderson children became quite athletically involved. In addition to playing football, Marques ran track in high school and was a member of Long Beach Poly High School's 4x400 relay team that set a national record with a 3:11.97 clocking. Older sister Andrea was a member of the U.S. Olympic team's 4x400 relay at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
But even if it not for sports, Anderson still believes he would have followed in his parent's footsteps. If he wasn't playing in the NFL, Anderson said he'd most likely be working in the real estate business, a profession his parents know quite well.
"I'd be getting into all fields of real estate, from developing homes to foreclosing on loans," Anderson said. "I grew up in a business family. My parents own their own real estate firm in California, so that's basically what I grew up in. I've been intrigued by (real estate) my whole life."
Judging by the early success Anderson has had in the NFL, the Packers Defensive Rookie of the Year need not pick an alternative career quite yet. But whether in the NFL or closing a major real estate deal, there's little doubt Anderson's beliefs would change. Family, wisdom, virtue and Jesus are his guiding principles, and tattoo ink doesn't just wash off.