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Shawn Marion

TNT sportscaster Kenny Smith gave Shawn Marion the nickname "The Matrix" in Marion's rookie season. That's not what this means.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

By any standard, it's been one sweet career for professional basketball player Shawn Marion. In 11 years in the NBA, Marion has racked up a slew of impressive stats: 10,000 points scored, 80-plus playoff game appearances, and four All-Star team selections. In 2011, he helped the Dallas Mavericks win the NBA championship finals. And his record of charitable works rivals his on-court accomplishments.

An ill-advised tattoo barely registers on a resume like that. Nonetheless, in 2003, Marion had his right leg tattooed with what he thought were the Chinese characters for his nickname, "The Matrix." Maybe he should have consulted fellow NBA star Yao Ming, a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese born in Shanghai, first. Chinese characters are composed of exact combinations of strokes -- between poor translation and poor rendering, misprints are common in tattoos. The three figures on his leg signify demon, bird and camphor (the active ingredient in mothballs). Taken together or apart, if they have any connection to a matrix, no one has explained it.

Our next case study illustrates that although a lot of parents think their children are angels, some may take it a little too literally.

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