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June 28 2011

Crazy Name Changes

posted by Christy

There are many reasons to change your name, including marriage, divorce, or if your parents saddled you with a name like Willie Stroker (a Judge in fact).  I can also appreciate name changes for religious or personal reasons, like Muhammad Ali (formally Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.,).  I even understand stage names like Eminem (much cooler than Marshal Bruce Mathers III) and Hulk Hogan (way more intimidating than Terrence Bollea).  

But some people are just getting ridiculous.  For instance, if you had to guess which NBA basketball player changed his name recently to "Metta World Peace," would you have picked the player who was the main brawler in probably the worst fight in NBA history and who was charged with assault and then three years later was arrested for domestic abuse?  Me neither.  Ron Artest is crazy if he thinks changing his name will erase his violent past and renew his reputation.

Seriously, aren't there any restrictions on name changes?  According to, there are a few limitations on changing your name:

  • You can't change a name with fraudulent intent. For example, you cannot legally change your name to avoid paying debts, keep from getting sued or get away with a crime.

  • Your new name cannot interfere with the rights of others, which generally is defined as choosing the name of a famous person with the intent to mislead. For example, most judges will not approve your renaming yourself George Bush or William (Bill) Clinton unless you have a convincing reason not related to the famous politicians.

  • You cannot use a name that would be intentionally confusing. This might be a number or punctuation -- for example, "10," "III," or "?." (Minnesota's Supreme Court once ruled that a man who wanted to change his name to the number "1069" could not legally do so, but suggested that "Ten Sixty-Nine" might be acceptable.)

  • You cannot choose a name that is a racial slur.

  • You cannot choose a name that could be considered a "fighting word," which includes threatening or obscene words, or words likely to incite violence. (What about the "He Hate Me" XFL jersey- although that player didn't actually change his name.)

Here are some crazy name changes that I found just for your amusement:

  • George Garrett, a teenager changed his name to "Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined." (I wonder what kind of job this kid got)

  • "Animal" is not just a character from the Muppets it is now the name of a security guard.

  • "Dr. Mclovin" (formally Kurt Anthony Raybould)

  • "Han Solo" (formally Dominic James McCathy Kimberley) 

  • "Addidas Nike" (formally Johnathan Thomas)   


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About the Author: Christy

Christy graduated from law school in May 2011 and is now working for the U.S. Navy as a JAG. She is practicing as a military prosecutor and will move to military defense in December 2012. She is currently stationed in Florida and enjoys traveling, playing soccer, and watching Dexter and Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


  1. tom said on 9/20/12 at 2:31 PM

    Changing the new for a transgender is an important step for completion of that person adjustment to their new body.  Denying such a change has serve physiological implication.  The law has to recognize this as to the treatment for transpersons

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