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August 3, 2006 at 11:27 PM

Beard bares all

So, I heard this story about Washington All-Star Alana Beard getting her first tattoo in Australia with Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson and Indiana guard Tully Bevilaqua (a former Seattle player) and I had to see if it was true. It was.
Beard showed me the tat on her right hipbone — an elaborate angel with a ball, which symbolizes the angel having Beard’s world in her hands.
“Lauren’s a pro, but it took Tully and I two weeks to decide the exact one that we wanted,” Beard said. “I was the only one crying.”
Jackson, who got the rose tattooed on her neck at the same time as Beard and Bevilaqua, confirmed Beard was a little whimpy while getting inked.
“She’s a punk,” Jackson said. “She definitely was a baby, I was like, ‘God, get over it, come on.’ I didn’t hold her hand, but I was definitely laughing at her a lot.”
Beard played for Jackson’s Canberra Capitals, replacing the Aussie star in the lineup as she dealt with stress fractures last winter. Beard, Jackson and Bevilaqua roomed together in a two-bedroom apartment for about eight weeks with Bevilaqua, who’s 5-foot-7, sleeping on the couch.
“It was amazing,” Jackson said. “It was like, ‘can I go sleep somewhere else, please?’ because the apartment was tiny. There were nights when one of us would go to a hotel. It was too close for comfort.”
Regardless of the cramped space, Beard said she blossomed in the country, which has led to the remarkable season she’s having. The 5-11 guard is sixth in the league in scoring (18.4) and is leading her Mystics into the playoffs. Beard was also named to the Team USA squad competing in the World Championship.
“Even though I was the only black speck walking around, it was so much fun. Australia was really good for me,” Beard said. “It was freedom over there, no criticism or nothing. It was turning point in finding a balance in my life. It showed me that basketball isn’t everything. I heard Lauren during an interview one time tell a reporter in Australia that basketball was ‘leisure’ and a light bulb went off in my head. It’s leisure. This is what it is. I don’t do it because I have to; I do it because I love it.
“Before I loved it [basketball] the wrong way. I was way too serious. Last year, I promised my family I would never put them through that again because it took so much energy away from them and the love they were showing to me. I loved it [basketball] too much, I loved it too hard and I loved it the wrong way.”
Jackson agreed.
“I definitely saw her come out of her shell a little bit in Australia, but it’s easy to do there because it’s so laid back,” she said. “I think Tully, her and I are going to be really close for a really long time.”

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