The stars of the 10th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational gathered at ARIA Resort & Casino for the highly anticipated signature MJCI Celebration during the weekend.
Headlining the celebrity charity gala was Grammy Award-winning artist Jamie Foxx, who put on a special private performance for the golfing celebrities and invited guests. World-famous dance crew Jabbawockeez, funnyman Kevin Hart and R&B sensations Boyz II Men opened for Foxx at the gala. The celebration followed the final round of MJCI’s Celebrity-Amateur play at Shadow Creek. In particularly good moods were athletes Jerome Bettis, Toni Kukoc and Drew Brees who, with their four-person amateur teams, were Friday’s top finishers with scores of 55.
When asked about participating in this year’s MJCI, Brees shared, “The whole experience itself is pretty incredible. Obviously [Michael Jordan’s] been doing this for awhile and he does it right; he picked a great venue in Shadow Creek. A lot of great celebrities – athletes, entertainers – come out to show their golf skills, kind of to see who is the best of the best in celebrity golfers…think it’s all good stuff.”
Lots of memories were made at Shadow Creek and ARIA for many fans. ESPN SportsCenter host Stuart Scott invited a 15-year-old boy to take his first shot at hole 17 with an incentive of $1,000 toward his future college education if he made it within 15 feet of the tee. The excited fan accepted the challenge and took a great shot that just didn’t quite make it, but guaranteed it will be a day he will never forget.
After the golf games wrapped at Shadow Creek, everyone made their way to ARIA for the night’s gourmet dinner and A-list entertainment. Legendary Michael Jordan arrived looking dapper in a sleek silver suit and pocket square and posed for photographs with girlfriend Yvette Prieto.
One by one celebrities continued to make their arrivals, including Drew Brees and wife Brittany, former MLB’s Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz and wife Kathryn and Paul O’Neill and wife Nevalee. Hockey star Mario Lemieux and model Gabriel Aubry took photos with the gorgeous glittering ladies greeting arriving guests. The carpet’s energy really took off when dance crew Jabbawockeez arrived in full costume, dancing with guests and amping up the crowd for their future performance inside the party. Also walking the blue carpet were Ken Griffey, Jr., Penny Hardaway, Anthony Anderson, Alan Thicke and many more.
The Jabbawockeez were first up in the line of performers and kick-started the entertainment with a shortened version of their Monte Carlo show MÜS.I.C. Jordan was captivated during the performance; and actress/singer Christina Milian was even pulled on stage for a special serenade during “Kiss the Girl.” Milian looked stunning in a melon-colored sexy dress and was the perfect on-stage guest for the dance crew. After the amazing performance, “I Want Candy” blared over the speakers for an elaborate presentation of dessert, ushered in by scantily clad girls adorned in cupcakes and sweets in all the right places. Delights like homemade marshmallows, pecan caramel puffs and French macaroons lowered from the ceiling as the “Candy Girls” rose up in clear bubbles and remained suspended over the spectacular dessert display.
Next to the stage was comedian Kevin Hart who served as emcee for the night and warmed up the crowd with jokes, including ribbing himself by saying “Before we carry on for the festivities, my job is to get you people settled and seated…I have to bring up more important people than myself.” Hart then introduced Bill McBeath, President and COO of ARIA Resort & Casino who thanked everyone for their support of MJCI, including the 700 volunteers – all employees of MGM Resorts International. Next to the mic was the host of the tournament, Michael Jordan, who said that after nine years of MJCI in the Bahamas, the event in Las Vegas is “by far the best.” He complimented ARIA and Shadow Creek staff by saying, “You guys have done a heck of a job turning this into something I can be very, very proud of….this golf course [Shadow Creek] is by far one of the best I’ve ever seen and it’s in my top three favorite courses of all time.”
Thunderous applause followed Jordan and led into the next entertainment act, the famous crooners Boyz II Men. Members Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris opened their three-song set with fan favorite “I’ll Make Love to You.” The celebrity-filled room was loving the R&B sensations, who personally invited Jordan and Prieto to the dance floor to kick up the romance for “End of the Road.”
The celebrities were clearly enjoying their private concert and living it up at the MJCI Celebration. Stuart Scott and Christina Milian were spotted in the Grey Goose Lounge, Gabriel Aubry and Ken Griffey, Jr. exchanged a quick hug and Spike Lee and Hill Harper were spotted chatting – perhaps comparing golf scores? All eyes moved to the stage though, when headlining performer Jamie Foxx appeared. Foxx addressed the crowd by saying, “Yo, how are we doing tonight? Oh man, I need everyone to come up here [to the stage] and give it up for Michael Jordan in the building right now.” Foxx then launched his performance with “Extravaganza,” leading into a stellar mash up of Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman Way Over Town” and Kayne West’s “Golddigger.” Working the crowd, Foxx scanned the room for gorgeous ladies saying, “Are there any single ladies in here? [Spotting one] You’ve got your ring on the wrong finger. Good, I’m going to stay right here.” He then posed for a fan’s camera phone and commanded “Tweet that,” before continuing his set with hits like “She Got Her Own” and “Just Like Me.”
Foxx’s performance was full of surprise visitors to the stage, including a dance lesson with Anthony Anderson during Cali Swag’s “Teach Me How to Dougie,” a guest performance by Shanice who serenaded husband Flex Alexander while Foxx filmed it on his iPhone and a sing-off with Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris. When Foxx’s #1 hit “Blame It (On the Alcohol)” began, celebs Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, Hill Harper, Christina Milian, Dondre Whitfield and wife Salli Richardson, Hill Harper and Flex Alexander and Shanice danced and sang along on stage, letting loose at MJCI’s signature event.
After Foxx’s incredible performance, celebrities exchanged hugs and farewells for the evening before heading to rest up for the first day of the celebrities-only tournament which began today. Jordan was spotted hugging Ken Griffey, Jr. on his way out of the MJCI Celebration.
Photos: Chris Weeks/ WIRE Image, via Meghan Baker, Kirvin Doak Communications