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Original Issue

Painted Lady

The inking woman's soccer star

On a dare fromfriends five years ago, U.S. women's soccer striker Natasha Kai got her firsttattoo. She hasn't let up since. "I have 12," she says. "I justkept it going." Kai, 23, the first Hawaii native to play for the nationalteam, hid her tattoos from her parents--until her mother, Sharon, saw her in amatch on TV. "My shirt got pulled, revealing the one on my lower back,"says Kai, who has five goals in eight international games. "She kind offreaked out and told me not to get anymore." Uh, sorry, Sharon. Kai plansto get more inkings, and she has won over one parent. Says Kai, "My dad[Benny] was like, 'Hey, you should tattoo me and your mom's names on you.' I'mall for that."

"The backdesign's like the Gemini sign; the inside of my arm has hibiscus flowers torepresent Hawaii and California [where she lives]. This one hurt the most andtook the longest--eight hours, in two sessions."

A stylized Geminiastrological sign that Kai designed. Her birthday is May 22.

Also has RESPECTon left wrist. "Sometimes I have a hard time trusting people. It's areminder to exhibit the qualities I seek in others."

Tribal designs oneach hip. "They don't have a name. It's just a design my tattoo artistpicked out."

Raised on Oahu,she got the Hawaiian Islands, "to represent where I'm from."

COURAGE (leftshoulder blade) and LOVE (right) in kanji characters. She says, "I want tobe courageous and loving in everything I do."

Her first."My name with two sea turtles. In Hawaii they're called Aumakua. It's likeyour spiritual guardian. I got them outside my name to protect me."

Kai wrote thepassage ("Appreciate the Memories ..."). "I was going through hardtimes last year [with school and a relationship]. I started writing to get outsome of my frustrations."

"A designthat one of my teammates and I came up with. It has TK for Tasha Kai, but witha tribal design so you can't tell it's a T and a K."