It was billed as the Fourth Annual SportsDream Celebrity Poker and Pool Party to kick off the week of activities leading up to ESPN’s ESPY Awards. The event was for a noble cause, raising funds for the SportsDream Foundation’s urban youth scholarship fund, plus kids sports programs. But let’s face it; most of the jocks were there because the party was held at the fabled Playboy Mansion.
Along with celebrities and athletes there were beautiful Playmates and Bunnies at the festive gathering, some hopping into the pool, other posing for pictures with all the happy guests. There were hundreds there enjoying a special performance by LMFAO, and DJ Irie making music all night long at Hugh Hefner’s huge estate in Holmby Hills.
A parade of all-stars from the sports world strolled the red carpet, set up on the front lawn where peacocks, jocks and other wildlife roamed freely. Get the picture?
The biggest star there was Jamie Foxx. The fun-loving Oscar-winner (for Ray) was telling everyone that he’s been good friends with Hef for a long time, and has great memories of parties at the mansion with James Caan and others. “Back in those days, I would enjoy the grotto, but that was before camera phones,” he joked. But Foxx was serious when he mentioned that he’d love to host the ESPY Awards again, because he had so much fun doing it several years ago.
Many of the athletes who were in town to attend the ESPYs were at the party, including Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin and his girl friend reality star Kim Kardashian. Football great Warren Moon was on hand with other NFL stars Eddie George, Marcellus Wiley, Patrick Willis, Dennis Dixon, Owen Daniels, and the Jets’ young Darrelle Revis. The NBA was represented with Amar’e Stoudemire (new to the Knicks) and the Raptors’ Amir Johnson. A variety of other sports were represented by former MLB outfielder Jose Conseco (turned bad boxer), volleyball pro Albert Hannemann, and soccer’s Cobi Jones.
Roberto Clemente, Jr., son of the late baseball legend, had a brief career in baseball, then became a game announcer for ESPN and other broadcasts. Clemente Jr. beamed with pride when he told me how his dad inspired him to create sports programs for children, and he founded the Reviving Baseball in the Inner-Cities (RBI), which the SportsDream Foundation supports. “That’s why I’m here tonight,” he said.
Of course more people wanted to talk to Apolo Ohno about winning the mirror-ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars than earning eight Olympic medals for speed skating. Also from Dancing with the Stars were pro dancers Maksim Chmerkovsky and Tony Dovolani. Other famous faces seen were The Blind Side’s good guy Quinton Aaron, Twilight’s villainous star Xavier Samuel, Last Comic Standing’s Craig Robinson, and skateboarder/MTV reality celeb Ryan Sheckler, who couldn’t resist getting his picture with Bunny Stacy and Bunny Tiffany.
A surprise was seeing Burbank’s Donut Prince owners, Tech and Betty, working the red carpet handing out fresh donuts to the stars. It was filmed as a segment for Lopez Tonight, because it’s George Lopez’ favorite donut shop and he has used the very funny couple as correspondents at other big events.
The Sabrina Barnett Collection was also a hit on the red carpet, with Sabrina herself and lots of pretty ladies modeling her fashions with “Let Love Shine” and other great messages emblazed on the glitzy outfits.
Many of the celebrities mixed and mingled around the mansion, looking over the impressive sports memorabilia that was being auctioning off for the SportsDream Foundation. Then it was time to sit down and play in the charity poker tournament. Warren Moon said, “I don’t care how much I lose, because I know the kids are going to benefit. It’s a great way to help out and have a good time too.”
It was a smooth running celebration thanks to Steve Webster and his expert CMPR event team. And, yes, a party at the Playboy Mansion is as much fun as you imagine it to be.