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Once she gets the OK, Griner slips into her goofball persona."I might get my next tattoos on my eyelids," she says, smirking.

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.

She's finally free to be herself."My life is definitely different than it was in college," says Griner.

"Just knowing that you can help somebody out, that's a feeling you can't express.""I was really stoked when she came out," says John Ohagan, owner of Golden Rule Tattoo in Phoenix.

"It just seems like that tide is finally turning for awareness because of people like Brittney, it's almost become an inevitability for people to come out comfortably."In a story in ESPN The Magazine, Griner said she kept her sexuality a secret while at Baylor, claiming coach Kim Mulkey insinuated it would hinder recruiting and the program's image.

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.

FOR THE WIN: Griner's monster dunks in WNBA debut As the tattoo artist shows Griner a sketch, the 6-8 women's basketball star calls over to her girlfriend for approval.

I'm glad she's able to be who she really is now."Mulkey did not return messages from USA TODAY Sports about the ESPN report or Taurasi's comments.

Griner has received positive and negative feedback for her choice to be open with her sexuality, a choice that coincided with Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay NBA player."He was very brave to step out like that," Griner says of Collins. I hope it gets to the point where the reaction to being gay is 'oh, that's cool' where it's just another thing.

She put them both down like nothing."Over the course of a two-day interview with USA TODAY Sports, Griner recalls a time when there were more tears than smiles. The name calling still resonates, and to this day she endures online jabs questioning her femininity among other things."The bullying I dealt with as a child was very tough. "Those people would say their mean things, ignorant things, and go about their business and have a great day while I'd be sitting there crying, hating everything, not wanting to be around. Now, I can relate to a younger crowd or anyone who's gone through bullying.""You've gotta smile in everyone's face, even if you're crying on the inside," Griner says.

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