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Justin Tuck brings out the stars

6/4/2011

In the week leading up to his celebrity billiards event, Justin Tuck hit the media circuit hard.

He made an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (he was on the same show with our girl Lucy Liu!) and numerous other talk shows.

Tuck's stature as a celebrity is growing and that was evident by who came out to help his R.U.S.H. for Literacy charity foundation on Thursday night.

Photo courtesy Johnny Nuñez

Giants teammates Keith Bulluck and Hakeem Nicks were among the guests of Justin Tuck (center).

Comedian Cedric the Entertainer, director Spike Lee, actor Anthony Anderson, model Petra Nemcova, boxing champ Bernard Hopkins, pool professional Jeanette "The Black Widow" Lee and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi were among the celebrities who joined Tuck.

And there were several football players as well. As always, we take you inside the ropes and into the party which was held at Slate in Manhattan.

• • •

Walk into the doors at Slate past the security outside and you immediately hear sweet jams spun by DJ Mad Linx, who had the party going with plenty of old school while Anderson manned the microphone for a bit. At one point Mad Linx had some Guy and Lionel Richie going, a DJ after my own old-school heart.

Much like the ESPN the Magazine NFL draft parties, celebrities and athletes could be seen sprinkled in the crowd.

Upstairs, Tuck and Brandon Jacobs talked while watching a competitor shoot some pool. On a table nearby, the Black Widow had a big crowd watching her shoot.

Clifford Robinson, the former Nets and Trail Blazers forward, stood above the crowd in one corner as he enjoyed the music. Hip-hop great Chubb Rock also was in the billiards tournament and serious about his play.

Walk downstairs and you immediately see a few Giants catching up during the lockout by one table. Shaun O'Hara, David Diehl and Keith Bulluck happily pose for pictures. Also somewhere mingling in the crowd were Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks , defensive tackle Chris Canty, center Adam Koets, cornerback Terrell Thomas, Packers running back Ryan Grant, Ravens running back Ray Rice and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who tweeted this picture of him and Tuck.

"JT lookin sharp," Sanchez said via his Twitter page. "Prob one of the few times I want 2 b this close to a DE like Tuck!"

• • •

Across the way by another table, former Knicks Allan Houston and John Starks waited for their turn to shoot some pool. Have to wonder whether they knew Donnie Walsh would be out a few hours later.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

What would a celebrity billiards event be without The Black Widow?

Starks had one eye on the pool table and another on the NBA Finals, which was being played on some of the flat screen televisions on the wall. Current Knick Landry Fields was also in the building.

The entire place was packed and there were plenty of beautiful people. Tuck's event had an even bigger feel than it did last year. Perhaps that’s because Tuck's charity organization continues to grow.

"We've gone over the million dollar mark," Tuck proudly says. "Well over, actually."

• • •

Tuck's organization, started by Tuck and his wife, Lauran, donates books and reading materials to benefit kids in the New York City and Central Alabama. R.U.S.H. for Literacy has donated more than 21,000 books and raised more than $1 million.

Tuck visited tornado-ravaged Alabama recently and is still emotional about what he saw. Tuck, along with JP Morgan Chase, helped donate $275,000 to relief efforts in his home state. He hopes to continue providing aid.

"I had an opportunity to walk around communities that looked like a 50-foot giant had just stepped on houses," Tuck said. "It was encouraging to hear the words of [victims] just saying, 'We are going to continue to fight and continue to rebuild.'

"It was almost a teary-eyed adventure for me walking around," Tuck continued. "The pictures don't do it justice. You get an opportunity to smell the smells, see the sights, hearing stories about bodies [from] Tuscaloosa being found in Birmingham. People don't understand that is 100 miles away. You got to think about how devastating that is to a family. It is something I am very interested in continuing to support and figuring out ways to do more."