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Remembering Tempe tattoo artist Noah Brady, 20: 'A kind person who cared so deeply for others'

By Amber Victoria Singer
Published: Friday, December 22, 2023 - 10:41am
Updated: Tuesday, December 26, 2023 - 10:14am

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As 2023 comes to a close, here at The Show we're remembering several Arizonans you may never have heard of who passed away this year.

Up first is Noah Brady, who was a 20-year-old Tempe tattoo artist. He passed away in January. He had a pretty large social media following, mainly because of an unconventional challenge he was doing — tattooing himself every day for a year. His last tattoo, on day 165, was a box top.

The Show spoke with Noah’s mother, Rena Brady, about her son’s life and his legacy.

noah brady working on his tattoos
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Noah Brady working on his tattoos.

My name is Rena Brady and I’m here to talk about my son, Noah Brady.

Noah was the sweetest, sweetest man, he was the life of the party, always had a smile on his face, always helping others.

He was artistic, he was funny, talent shows, anything, he was front and center. Anything. He was just bigger than life. Everyone was, to him, everyone was his friend. He would make friends with the older gentlemen at the grocery store in line. I mean, he just — he talked to everybody, he made everybody feel loved.

He was a tattoo artist, and he would give tattoos, and he had a following on social media, and every day he would do a tattoo on himself. When he first told me I’m like, "Noah, you can’t do this, like, I support you, but hon, 365 tattoos on your legs is a lot, like please."

And he said no, I’m going to do this. So I had to step back and be like, OK, I love you, you know, and it’s not something I would have chosen, but I loved him and that’s what he chose. He wasn’t hurting anyone else. It gave him something to look forward to so that he could keep himself alive, and then that finally made sense to me, after the fact, was he was trying to keep himself alive.

noah brady snaps a photo of his tattoos
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Noah Brady snaps a photo of his tattoos.

I gave him one tattoo. He was up visiting and I gave him a little worm and when he passed away — I have a necklace with his fingerprint on it and on the back it has his little name that he had written out, and then I took the worm stencil — because I’d call him Noah Bug — and I took the stencil and I had it engraved in the back of the gold necklace.

He was 20. He was solely a tattoo artist, he did it in his bedroom, and he made great money and loved it. He was donating to GoFundMe accounts when he passed away. And I was reconciling his account; GoFundMe, GoFundMe, GoFundMe, GoFundMe. And then I had people contacting me and like, single dads, he put diapers on my kids, he put food on my table. Single women would be like, he paid for my rent. He was just very compassionate.

When he passed away, I had many, many, many people say he really helped me in my darkest times, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him.

Clients would fly him to Texas or Washington or Oregon. He went to New York and Chicago a few times, and he just loved it. He loved people. He hid it so well, that’s the thing with mental illness.

Behind that smile was a broken heart and just sadness that I never knew. He passed away Jan. 7 of this year, 2023, and he didn’t tell me until the end of October of '22, and I was shocked. I was devastated, it’s like, how could this kid that’s always smiling be so suffering so much?

And he helped everyone else, but we couldn’t help him. He said I need help, I’m not okay. And I went into mom mode. I said let’s get you into counseling, let’s change a few things in your life, let’s change your eating habits, you need to go out and exercise, you need to talk to people, don’t hide this, you know, thank you for telling us. He said no, I don’t want the family to know, I’m telling you.

It wasn’t until Christmas Day, he was really down and depressed, and I said I — we can’t do this. I need to tell your dad, and I need to tell your brothers, they were all coming over for Christmas. And everyone was shocked, they’re like, what do you mean? Our Noah? And the very next day we went and got him on antidepressants, and he didn’t take them.

I think he had already checked out. I — tried. And we were very close. I talked to him, we had a very good relationship, and I 100% supported him and he knew that he could trust me. That’s why it was so devastating that I didn’t know.

You know, I’m glad that he will be remembered as just a kind person who cared so deeply for others. That, as a mom, that makes your heart happy, that he was loved, and he knew he was loved.

noah brady records a tiktok of his tattoos
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Noah Brady records a TikTok of his tattoo challenge.

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