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What Does Idris Elba's "One Life" Tattoo Mean? It's A Tribute To His Late Father

Tattoos are a beautiful way to decorate your body. They also make touching tributes to loved ones. Idris Elba's got quite a few tattoos, but one of them has a truly special meaning. If you've ever wondered what Idris Elba's "one life" tattoo means, prepare to get emotional. It's a tribute to his late father.

In a March 11, 2019, interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Elba detailed the meaning behind the words "one life" that are tattoed on his forearm. He recalled watching his father, Winston Elba, die of lung cancer in September 2013 at the age of 76. It was in that moment Elba realized he only had one life to live.

"That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. I watched my dad die, and he and I had big plans," started Elba. "I never got to show him the fruits of my labor. We talked about things he could have if I made it, then he got sick."

He went on to explain how the devastating moment affected his outlook on life, saying, "It was heartbreaking, but it also grounded the f*ck out of me.”

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In light of recent events, the words "one life" seem even more powerful. Elba tested positive for COVID-19 on March 16. The virus has infected more than 120,000 people worldwide and is considered harmful for those with respiratory issues. Elba has asthma, but is "generally feeling OK," he said in a March 17 Twitter Live video he filmed while self-isolating.

He took the time to encourage his fans to follow health officials' instructions to stop the spread, while debunking conspiracy theories about the virus, like that Black people can't catch it.

The conspiracy theory that Black people can't catch COVID-19 picked up steam in late February after experts questioned why there were very few cases across Africa at the time. Since then, cases have grown exponentially in African countries, just like everywhere else around the globe.

"Please guys, now is not the time. People need to know facts, need to understand the truth so that they can protect themselves," Elba cautioned his fans. "Stop sending this stuff out. It's very dangerous for all, not just Black people, but for everyone."

"I've had asthma all my life and catching corona was not on my bucket list at all," Elba joked. "But even my asthma is OK."

Considering the message behind Elba's "One Life" tattoo, I think it's best to follow his lead.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.