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On the lower right side of her back, she has a tattoo featuring two skulls with the words, "laugh now, cry later," a phrase that she turned to during her most difficult time.

When she plays, Griner no longer sports long sleeves to cover up her tattoos as she did in college. She's not trying to be an actress, she's not trying to be a rapper.

PHOENIX — At a downtown tattoo parlor, Brittney Griner is cautiously picking out her next choice of body ink."I'm getting this next one on my neck," Griner says, showing off a wide array of current tattoos decorating her upper body.

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"I want to get the full sleeve like he has," she says.

Another is the double-linked female sign that represents Griner's sexuality.

We're seeing a star player making a stand, and we haven't always seen that in the league."A NEW TYPE OF PLAYERGriner offers a brand of athleticism never seen before in the WNBA.

In the Mercury's season-opening game against the Chicago Sky — Griner's first in the league — she threw down two power dunks in the most-viewed WNBA telecast on ESPN2 in nine years.

She's done hiding — both on and off the court."There's something to be said about being comfortable in your own skin," Mercury teammate and 10-year WNBA veteran Diana Taurasi says. She's Brittney Griner, who plays basketball at the highest level, and off the court can get along with anyone."She's really re-energized the WNBA and revived the whole city (of Phoenix) with women's basketball."CHANGING THE LEAGUEOn the court, Griner is a shot-blocking, dunking, emotional superstar. I don't know what sex they are, but I say they're both girls.

Off it, she's an active longboarder, she listens to Jimi Hendrix before games and Trace Adkins after, she'll soon be wearing men's clothing as part of a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike, and she has two pet snakes, Audii and Sage."I think snakes are misunderstood," she says. Audii is gray and a bit bigger, and Sage is red and yellow but smaller.

"I love the freedom that comes with being an adult.

No one's telling you what to do, nothing's planned out.

The fact that Brittney embraces who she is can only help the game.

I think the WNBA has to embrace the celebrity at its fingertips.

Since being selected by the Phoenix Mercury as the top pick in April's WNBA draft, Griner is getting a chance to do something that has eluded her for so long.