Family is at the center of what drives Tina. In addition to playing basketball and working on a documentary, she founded Hopey’s Heart in memory of her late aunt, Maureen “Hopey” Vez. The foundation has placed more than 330 AED defibrillators worldwide in the hopes of preventing sudden cardiac arrest from claiming the lives of student athletes. While honoring Tina’s aunt, the foundation was also inspired by Wes Leonard, a Michigan high school basketball player who died of sudden cardiac arrest after sinking the winning shot for his team.
Tina puts her money where her heart is. In 2017, she donated her WNBA salary to Hopey’s Heart, and she also contributed half of her 2014 and 2015 salary in an effort to ensure that all schools have access to the life-saving equipment. “I don’t think I should only be judged by what I do on the court,” Tina explained. “If that’s all I was known for, I think I would be doing a bad job with my life.” Instead, she aspires to inspire other athletes to use their platforms to advocate for what they believe in.
“Regardless if you’re winning or losing, New Yorkers are there for you,” Tina said. Lucky for New York, she’s on the home team.