Chris + Linda Hope are a Nashville husband-wife duo entrenched in the world of philanthropy and community engagement, with their two beautiful children gleaning what servanthood looks like. Chris is a former NFL player for the Tennessee Titans, author, founder of the iCHope Fund, and low key a comedian. Linda is a Managing Director at Beautycounter; advocating for clean beauty practices while empowering her team and the women around her on a daily. A chance encounter on FAMU’s campus would bring them together and a love (and constant laughs) spanning over 20 years is what continues to flourish between. Through our virtual sit-down, it was great to see the true enjoyment they have just being in each other’s presence.
That HBCU Kind of Love
They first met during one of the famed FAMU homecomings at a popular space called The Moon (which was known throughout Tallahassee). Linda, a graduate of FAMU, has always been a FL girl. Originally from Miami, with parents from the beautiful country of the Dominican Republic. Linda knew she wanted to attend an HBCU as she reflects, “Yes, Florida State University was there, but I didn’t hang out at Florida State; I stayed in my community bubble”. Chris on the other hand was a rising football player at Florida State, but of course, spent time at FAMU because we all know HBCU life that is where all the fun resides. As he remembers “It was a Wednesday night during FAMU’s homecoming. I saw her come in, and immediately thought she was gorgeous. She happened to be with some people that I knew, so that was a plus”. They would strike up a brief conversation but sparks would not fly until they met again at a fashion show on FAMU’s campus. As Chris shares “we’ve been rocking ever since”.
To Nashville With Love
After graduating from Florida State, Chris would be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and then signed to the Tennessee Titans bringing him to Nashville. The couple would continue dating until they got married in 2011. “I didn’t think we would actually stay here”, as Chris reflects on their initial time in Nashville. “I will always say this was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to face. I went from being surrounded by my family, my community, and friends I’ve had since middle school to moving to a completely new city, Linda states on her move to Nashville. She continues by sharing “there was so much diversity growing up in Miami, and I was raised to be in the majority. People of color are all I’ve ever known.” Then, Nashville grew on Linda and her view of cowboy boots, cows and farms began to shift. It was during their brief time in Atlanta, when their daughter was born that they began to consider where they would want to raise a family. Linda shares, “we looked at our options, and Nashville was a strong number one.” They would later move back to Nashville in 2012 after Chris retired from the NFL.
A Couple That Serves Together
The Hope’s union has focused on giving back to the Nashville community but also to their hometowns. As Chris reflects, “ It’s common amongst players that we become so invested in giving back to the community in which we play but forget to give back to our hometowns. I made it my purpose to go back to my hometown of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and pour back into that community”. The couple established the iCHope Fund to provide support for individuals and families from diverse backgrounds in Nashville, TN, Rock Hill, SC and Miami, FL. Short for Chris Hope’s name, the fund seeks to bless and step in to help others through any challenge or obstacle they may face.
Through iCHope, there is one initiative that holds a special place with Linda, her Motherless Queens Brunch. At the age of 9, Linda lost her mother tragically and she grew up dreading Mother’s Day. She recalls, “When I was 13, I remember that Mother’s Day weekend. My sister and I were at home while our friends were out celebrating with their Moms. I remember saying to her (my sister) that when we get older, we’re going to host a brunch during Mother’s Day weekend for young girls who have also lost their mom so that we can commune together and not be alone”. Linda manifested that declaration years later by hosting her first Motherless Queens Brunch in Nashville. She was 36, the same age her mother was when she passed. Hosting 12 girls the first year, the next year she would hold the brunch in her hometown of Miami, FL. She has since created the Motherless Queens Scholarship Fund for young girls who have lost their mothers and plan to attend an HBCU. They will award their first recipients this year.
They also host an annual Christmas giveaway, partnering with schools in South Carolina to gift 80 – 100 kids with a Walmart shopping spree. “This time of year is near and dear to my heart because I can say that growing up, I didn’t always get what I wished for, but I had two loving parents who tried their best”, Chris shares. The fundraising for the event occurs in the form of their annual “A Night of Hope” in Nashville. Hosted at Shogun in Brentwood, Chris gathers his former teammates and current Titans players to come out and celebrate with the fans for a great cause. They take on the role of chef at the hibachi grill, flipping knives and serving the fans all for a great cause.
With a new year breathing fresh vibes into everyone’s spirit, The Hope’s are also looking forward to new endeavors. Chris shares, “I’ve written a book (PROS), and Linda is knocking it out of the park in the Beautycounter world”. Her Instagram is definitely a destination for all things clean beauty, family, motherhood to women’s empowerment. Note, if you have not checked out her clean beauty page, get into it. They have this baby balm that will literally cure any skin ailment, trust me it is magic in a bottle.
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.