Interactive Feature: Marc Sonnen - Beyond the Ink

Extra notes and stories from reporting 'Beyond the Ink:'

A letter to Marc from his mother before she died - the letter is tattooed on his right side:

Dear Marc,

I will miss you growing up. Please grow up to be a fine young man, as I know you will. As I have said I will always be with you, just in a different way now. I am at peace with the Lord in heaven, and someday in a different place we will meet again. You and Chelsea have been the light of my life for the past 13 years and I know you are sad and grieving for me that I have passed on. May the Lord be with you and comfort you in many ways. You have your Dad, Chelsea and family that love and can help in anyway. I will always Love You and please talk to me in anyway you feel.

Love To You Always,


Gayle Sonnen passed away Feb. 23, 2001, which makes Saturday the 12th anniversary of her death.

- Fresh Forum podcast, talking about 'Beyond The Ink'

"They were going over the test rules and whatever and someone came over the loudspeaker. That was very, very unusual. It was just something that didn't happen during testing, unless it was an emergency or something. So they were like, 'Chelsea Sonnen, could you please come down to the office.' And of course, I'm not thinking anything about my mom, I'm thinking I did something wrong...So I started freaking out. Then my teacher's phone rang and they told him what had happened. I went up to him and was like, 'What did I do? I don't understand what's going on.' He's like, 'You didn't do anything. I promise it's OK.' He just grabbed my arm and was walking with me. It was just eery. I knew something was going on but I didn't think it was anything to do with my mom until we turned the corner of the hallway and started walking  towards the office. We had a huge glass front office at my junior high. I saw my dad and brother in there and they were crying. And I just knew. I just knew right then. Nobody had to say anything to me. Nothing."

– Chelsea Sonnen, about the day her mother died

"It made me realize, we talk about as a country being one to get over segregation and get over how we judge people. You know it's still in there, that guy might be a really nice guy about people but, one thing, me having tattoos, he said he'd never coach a team I'd play on. That just made me think a lot, no matter what, however the world says we're changing, it's always going to go back to how people judge people on their first experience."

- Marc Sonnen

"I thought he was always going to make it. Just for the fact how hard he works and you just see his personality and stuff like that. It's just, it attracts you to be around him. You can tell ever since the age of ninth grade that he was going to be very successful.

– Derek Peterson

"(Derek and Chase) came to high school with me. They really helped me through it over the years. And Derek's mom is somebody who is kind of like a stepmom to me. She's done a lot for me and always been there for me. Growing up without a mom, I don't think how many people realize how much of an impact a mom can have on a life. Like my roommates, their mom will come bring them food. Just the little things like that I've never really been able to experience. (Stevie) has done a lot for me to help me out."

– Marc Sonnen

"I really do think, if you give them the love and support, they will turn out like Marc. I don't have any doubts. The kids that have issues, it's because their parents don't have time for them. I sacrificed a lot. There's a lot of things that I haven't done that I wanted to do, but then I thought, you know what, if you're going to have good kids that's what you've got to do. And it's paid off. You know, every time we see each other and we say goodbye he always gives me a hug and tells me he loves me. That's what I told him. A lot of guys' dads, I don't think,  get that from the kids, especially the boys…I told him being  a man doesn't mean you have to be rough and gruff. There's times when you still have to be sentimental and be more caring and show it. That's the other side of being a man."

– Dan Sonnen

"Our mother, she was amazing. She just loved us unconditionally. Supported us unconditionally. She was just always there. She was a great speller, so when we would do anything English related she would always proofread our papers. Our teachers would always be like, 'This is so well done.' And they're like, 'Did you get help from your parents?' My mom was like, 'I only did the spelling check.' She was very involved with us. Those kind of things, when you learn them young and it's constantly instilled in you, it just stays with you forever. And I know that's why Marc is the way he is. Even though he only got to be with my mom for 10 years, in those 10 years, she did all the footwork."

– Chelsea Sonnen

"I would say that you see your dad obviously has a lot of tattoos, but there's a good meaning behind them and it's not something I got because I was young kid growing up and just wanted to feel cool getting tattoos to fit in with people. Then I would tell them, 'Your grandmother was somebody that really touched my heart and really was the motivation for me through everything growing up and the struggles I've dealt with.' She helped me see that if you put your mind to something and you really work, no matter the pain or anything, you can succeed. She's the one who really taught me that. I want to be able to instill that into my kids."

– Marc Sonnen, on what he would say to his children about the tattoos


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