A mini-traffic jam began to form outside Slate on 21st street on Thursday night.
Cars began to slow down to catch a glimpse at what was going on outside the swanky Manhattan billiards lounge where security guards wearing black suits closely guarded a red carpet area. Soon, the red carpet got busy with old school rappers like Big Daddy Kane, stars like Vivica Fox, NBA players like Carlos Boozer and several Giants and a few Jets arriving and posing for pictures and conducting interviews.
All were there for New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who held his second celebrity billiards tournament to benefit R.U.S.H. (Read, Understand, Succeed, Hope) For Literacy, a foundation created by Tuck and his wife Lauran. The event raised close to $150,000.
Tuck said he was feeling the heat of a humid evening in New York City but you couldn’t tell since he was looking very sharp in a black suit and tie. Before his event started, Tuck conducted several interviews on the red carpet as did many of his guests.
Big Daddy Kane proved there “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” when walking the red carpet. He was asked who the greatest rapper of all-time is and, of course, his answer was none other than the “Smooth Operator” himself. Kane even found time to make a recruiting pitch for another king, LeBron James.
“Hey LeBron, check this out, this your boy Big Daddy Kane man,” Kane said. “I’m trying to tell you, if you come on over here and holla at the Knicks, I will take you to Coney Island. First hot dog is on me.”
Kane was joined by fellow old school rapper Chubb Rock, who was a big hit inside the lounge. Several tournament players chatted up the Chubbster for a while before play began.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning showed up. Giants offensive linemen Dave Diehl, Chris Snee and Rich Seubert strutted on the red carpet. Snee and Seubert looked like brothers wearing similar striped dress shirts. Shortly after, Tuck’s defensive teammates arrived. Osi Umenyiora, Michael Boley and Chris Canty walked in and Umenyiora playfully stood with the media and pretended to interview Tuck on the red carpet. Umenyiora later conducted a brief interview and talked about his advice to LeBron and his future with the Giants.
As Canty walked past Tuck, he patted his teammate on the back and Tuck immediately pointed out that a healthy Canty is a big reason why he is very excited about this coming season for the Giants.
Inside Slate, several Giants were sprinkled throughout the two-level billiards lounge. Upstairs, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Ramses Barden caught up while sitting on a couch. Tuck, followed by a camera crew, interviewed actor Anthony Anderson by the DJ booth. Former Knick Charles Smith towered over guests in the middle of the floor and his old teammate John Starks was in the building as well.
The Black Widow, Jeanette Lee, was also in the house, undoubtedly giving players pointers.
Downstairs, Fox got ready to play pool while several Giants like Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Canty were practicing at a nearby table. Actor Paul Sorvino sat and talked to friends just a few steps away.
Former Jet and new Seahawk Leon Washington brought his own stick and said he was excited about his new life in Seattle. His old backfield mate, Shonn Greene wasn’t far away. ESPN’s own Michael Smith and former Falcon Jamal Anderson teamed up together at another table.
Tuck was humbled by the showing for his foundation, which has donated over 17,500 books and raised over $300,000 since its inception.
“I wake up in cold sweats every night thinking about stuff like this and how blessed I am,” said Tuck, who grew up in Alabama. “I am a country bumpkin. My idea of a vacation is sitting on the porch watching cars go by playing cards with my uncles and it is still is.”
“But I understand the opportunities I have in New York City,” he added. “I’m just blessed to have the people around me to give me these opportunities.”