Never give up. That’s the motto a Wichita man lives by after overcoming tragedy.

“Just keep on going. Put your head down and do the work,” said Dan James.

James, 45, is the proud owner of Idle Hands Tattoo & Piercing of Wichita. He’s passionate about art and people.

“We get to create artwork and put it on somebody’s body for the rest of their lives,” James said. “We are just like a hair stylist or anything else. They come in here and they usually talk about what’s going on in their lives.”

James cherishes the relationships he’s been able to build with his coworkers and customers.

“Sometimes people are just hurting and they want to feel something other than what they’re feeling inside, so a lot of times when they get in the chair it kind of lets that release out for them and they tend to blur it and tend to tell their life story,” James explained.

The father of two has quite the story himself.

In August of 2017, James lost his best friend to a motorcycle crash.

“He was my best buddy. We were supposed to grow old together,” James said. 

Shortly after his friends death, tragedy struck again.

“I had a memorial ride for my friend two days after his funeral and I was riding my custom motorcycle and I caught some sand and kicked out a little bit and dragged my foot,” he said. “Long story short, the infection got bad because of my vascularity in my leg and they ended up having to take my leg.”

James went from cruising on his motorcycle and spending his free time at the gym to learning how to drive and do simple tasks like bathe again.

“In a way, it was like a new challenge to me, so it was almost welcome even though it was a hardship at the same time,” he explained.

He admitted there were times he wanted to give up, but he wouldn’t allow himself to go down a negative path.

“I just can’t stay in that funk because once you get in that funk, you stay in there. You just dig a bigger hole for yourself,” James said. “It’s just a matter of trying to keep that good, positive mental attitude.”

People around James often call him an inspiration.

“I don’t get it because I’m not doing anything that nobody else in life shouldn’t be doing. I’m just kind to other people. I listen to them. I want to hear their story.” he said.

James recently got fitted for a temporary prosthetic. He’s now relearning how to walk before he gets his permanent prosthetic. He said with each step he’s reminded how far he’s come. 

“A lot of people have bucked for me and the reason it’s really important for me to succeed in this is for those people.” he said.

He said his goal is to continue doing what he loves; working at his tattoo shop and spending time with his family and friends.

“Everyday is not going to be sunshine and rainbows, you know, but you get up, you do what you need to do everyday and you complete the tasks for the day,” James said. “I try to encourage people to do the same thing.”

James has not driven a motorcycle since his crash. He hopes to do that sometime soon.