It has been a busy offseason for Justin Tuck.
When you are a Super Bowl champion, everyone wants you to make an appearance. But last Thursday, Tuck used his steadily increasing influence to bring celebrities out to his fourth annual Celebrity Billiards event to support his R.U.S.H. for Literacy foundation.
Teammates and celebrities like actress Vivica A. Fox, supermodel Selita Ebanks, actor/comedian Anthony Anderson and Cake Boss Buddy Valastro helped Tuck raise $400,000 and bring the R.U.S.H.’s total money raised over the years to $1.5 million to promote literacy and education for youth.
As always, ESPNNewYork.com takes you inside the ropes and inside Slate NYC to give you a glimpse of what Tuck’s celebrity charity event is like.
Outside and inside Slate, there were security-type guards everywhere. Once inside, you hear Anderson cracking jokes and busting on Tuck and other celebrities in the building. When Anderson wasn't making people laugh, DJ Mad Linx spinned old school beats from New Edition and so many of my other favorite old school jams.
To the right on the top floor is a bar elevated above the main floor and it was packed. And near the bar was a table full of Georgetown Cupcake treats, each with an edible Tuck R.U.S.H. for Literacy logo or a picture of his children’s book on it. Georgetown Cupcake was one of several sponsors offering goodies.
As the night progressed, the crowd grew to near 1,000 as it became almost difficult to maneuver around the floor which had several pool tables. There were celebrities and athletes sprinkled throughout the crowd.
At any point, you could have run into former Knick John Starks or Blazers’ guard Wesley Matthews just trying to make your way to watch Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee entertain a large crowd around her pool table. Nets GM Billy King sat at one of the VIP couches and ate some food.
There were several of Tuck’s teammates either in the crowd or competing at a pool table. Downstairs, Terrell Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kenny Phillips, Chris Canty, Michael Boley and Ramses Barden were just a few of the Giants competing at several pool tables in the tournament.
You could watch any of these Giants play pool while munching on a sub courtesy of Tuck’s favorite sandwich chain Subway.
There were also several Giants walking in the crowd, including Osi Umenyiora, who could barely make his way around without being stopped by fans or friends. Perhaps Umenyiora was in a celebrating mood since his restructured contract was announced the next day.
And it certainly would not have been a Tuck celebrity event without the hip-hop community being represented. Hot 97 personality Angie Martinez and Naughty By Nature’s Treach and Vin Rock were on hand. At past events, Big Daddy Kane and Chubb Rock were among old school rap legends who supported Tuck’s cause.
In the end, former NBA and Hofstra basketball player Speedy Claxton and James McKenna won the tournament, beating Thomas and Martinez.
But Tuck and his wife Lauran’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy were the big winners in helping to donate over 45,000 new books and over $150,000 in grants and counting to youth-serving nonprofits since 2008.
“That is what the night is about, coming together and having fun and raising a lot of awareness and funds for the children and literacy,” Tuck said. “Me and my wife are very passionate about education and kids.”
“We felt as though in order to have a great education you have to have a background and a foundation. And I think if you ask anybody about the foundations of educational success, it starts with reading and writing.”