Forty Under 40: Sports
BY Advocate.com Editors
May 06 2009 12:00 AM ET
Natasha Kai | Soccer player | 26 | Kahuku, Hawaii
Instantly recognizable for the sleeve of tattoos on her right arm, Hawaiian soccer player Natasha Kai has also become known for her rebellious image and her intensity on the field. One of six children, Kai began her soccer career at age 7 in local leagues in Kahuku, on the island of Oahu. Nearly 20 years later, Kai has accomplished what most athletes only dream of -- winning an Olympic gold medal, hers at the 2008 games in Beijing. Playing as forward for the U.S. national team, she became a sensation on gay news sites last year after coming out during an interview with NBC.com.
Kai explained in that interview that a particularly stressful breakup with a girlfriend had nearly prevented her from making it onto the 2007 World Cup roster. She managed to get her head on "straight" just in time to make the team, though, and has gone on to become one of the world's most famous female athletes from Hawaii.