NY Liberty’s Tina Charles shares special bond with her dad, gives back to community

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“We are in Rawlston Recording Studio.”

It was the first state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn.

“It’s the only existing studio from back then where the rap artists used to go,” Rawlston Charles explained.

It's tucked inside the Fulton Street staple, Charlie's Calypso City.

Rawlston Charles opened the record store 43 years ago and it's thrived ever since.

“You’ve got to fine tune yourself [and] adjust yourself to deal with what’s coming," he said. "Because it is going change."

But, its not the studio, the music or his stylish suits that he cherishes most.

"She is back home," he smiled while looking at his wall of photos. "Where we love to have her.”

It's his daughter, Tina.

But basketball fans know her as the force at the center of the court.

“WNBA was always a dream for me,” Tina Charles said.

A dream that started more than 20 years ago.

“I was always an active child," Charles said. "I played every sport, around the corner was a basketball court.”

“When Tina was like three or four years old her mother bought her one of those little hoops and one of those little balls,” Rawlston Charles remembered. "I noticed that every time she picked up the ball and throw it, it [went] into the basket eight out of 10 times.”

Basketball became a way of life.

“My father took me to a lot of Knicks games," she remembered. "My mom took me to a bunch of New York Liberty games.”

It wasn't until high school though when they realized her jump shot could turn into a job.

Charles went on to play at the powerhouse University of Connecticut.

“I wanted to stay close," she said. "I wanted my parents to be able to see me play.”

“I’m not here to lie, I’m here to tell the truth," her dad said. "I wanted her to go to Stanford.”

She helped lead the Huskies to two undefeated NCAA National Championships and won the John R. Wooden and the Naismith College Player of the Year awards.

“My mom and dad, they always traveled to all my games," she said. "They were always there, very supportive of me that was the main thing they wanted to do for me.”

In 2010, Tina Charles' dream of going pro came true, with her dad right there by her side.

“How could you separate me from Tina when she got that call," he laughed. "We were right there!”

She dominated becoming the Rookie of the Year, the Leagues MVP and a Gold Medalist at the 2012 Olympics. Then the 6'4" center came back home, to join the Liberty, in 2013. Her dad sits court side at every home game.

“And every time I’m shooting free throws, I hear him say take Your time and I always stutter and I miss,” she said.

“We all look for someone to blame it on instead of ourselves,” her dad joked back.

“It’s been a whirlwind for me," Charles said. "[But] the one thing I’m missing from my mantel is a WNBA championship and to bring that to the New York Liberty would be awesome.”

The team is well on its way, currently leading the Eastern Conference. Charles just played in her fourth All-Star game.

“Being an all star is exciting, it’s a blessing," Charles said. "To become a starter that means people voted for you, they appreciate your game and who you are in the community, it’s about more than just basketball.”

And it's off the court, in the community, where she hopes to make a lasting impact.

"Hopey’s Heart Foundation's mission is to raise awareness to sudden cardiac arrest," she explained.

Named in honor of her late Aunt, the Hopey's Heart Foundation aims to get Automated External Defibrillators (A.E.D.s) into school and gyms across the country.

“To date we’ve been able to put out 156 A.E.D.s and I’m just hoping to keep going,” she said.

While her basketball career is far from over, Charles is already thinking about her next chapter, in the field of criminal justice.

“I was able to intern at Level II jail while I was at UConn my senior year," she said. "Just helping the inmates with their reintegration back into society was a really cool experience.”

No matter what court she's on, Tina Charles knows she will always have someone special in her corner.

“My parents have allowed me to be all that I can be," she said. “I can’t really explain in words, I love them and I
thank them for all that they’ve done for my life.”

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi