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The history of tattoos goes back centuries as symbols of strength, religious conviction and cultural alliances. The Greeks tattooed spies with their ranks. Romans permanently marked criminals and slaves. In Hawaii, traditional kakau assured good health and spiritual well-being.

Body art has found its own followers in the modern era, particularly in sports, where athletes often use tattoos as a sort of personal talisman, a way to create identity in a sport where individual character is diminished in favor of team uniformity.

Some estimates have placed the number of tattooed athletes in the NBA above 70 percent. And the Utah Jazz are no different. Here's what some players say about their body art.

Much of Carlos Boozer's upper body is covered in tattoos. Most are by Mister Cartoon, a well-known Los Angeles artist who has worked on such celebs as Eminem, Justin Timberlake and 50 Cent.

Boozer has a detailed grizzly bear on his left arm, a tribute to his home state of Alaska and a nod to his own "beast unleashed." Underneath it is an angel's eye in honor of his wife. His right arm bears an image of himself with Mount Juneau and the city's skyline in the background. The left side of his body is dark, representing temptation, while the right has a cross and a basketball. His arm also bears the words of Philippians 4:13: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

What fans can't see are the cross on his chest and the angel on his back, which took nearly eight hours to complete. Boozer plans to add more detail in the future.

"If it's going on my body, I'm going to put a lot of thought into it," he said.

Rookie Dee Brown has several tattoos on his upper body, but his quick playing style is signified in his tattooed nickname "One man fastbreak," while a large tattoo that covers his back reads "God is my judge."

"I never see that one, so sometimes I forget I have it," he said.

Rafael Araujo probably has caught the most grief for his tattoos. He got some of them while a student at Brigham Young University, an honor-code violation. He also risked disapproval in his native country of Brazil.

"If you have a tattoo there, they think you are a bad guy," he said. "For me, it shows who you are and it shows your character."

Among his tattoos are the word "determination" and his wife's name, Cheyenne, in Chinese. His left bicep is the canvas for a large shark with a basketball in its mouth and a half-basketball/half-world cradled in God's hand. "It's what I do and I'm obviously blessed with what I do," said Araujo.

Some players, like Matt Harpring, have no tattoos. Others keep them simple. Mehmet Okur has a "Y" tattooed between the thumb and index finger of his left hand for his wife, Yeliz. "I got this one because I love her and I want to show my appreciation for her," he said.

Derek Fisher used the Chinese characters for "faithful" and "heart, mind and spirit" on the underside of his right forearm. "At least that is what I was told they mean," he said. "Hopefully I won't find out it's actually something offensive."