Sneed: Obama’s top adviser, Valerie Jarrett, is dating Ahmad Rashad
BY MICHAEL SNEED March 3, 2014 8:22PM
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett speaks after a screening of "The Trip to Bountiful," a TV version of the Tony award-nominated Broadway revival of the play on Feb. 24, 2014 in Washington, D.C. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Updated: April 5, 2014 6:29AM
A valentine for Valerie?
Sneed is told senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett is dating Ahmad Rashad, the four-times-married sportscaster who was once a wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.
Although Jarrett has told at least one Chicago pal “it is not serious,” Sneed hears Rashad accompanied Jarrett to first lady Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday party at the White House in January.
Rashad, 64, an NBA TV studio host who is close friends with Michael Jordan and used to hang out with Tiger Woods, began quietly “seeing” Jarrett, 57, last year, according to a Sneed source.
Rashad, who was married to actress Phylicia “The Cosby Show” Rashad for 15 years, until the couple split in 2001, was divorced last year from Sale Johnson, the wealthy ex-wife of Johnson & Johnson billionaire Woody Johnson.
Last year, the New York Post tipped that Jarrett and Rashad, who has five children and multiple stepchildren, were seeing each other but keeping it “on the down low.”
Married and divorced only once, to Chicagoan William Robert Jarrett, the son of the late newspaper columnist Vernon Jarrett. She is extremely close to their daughter, Laura.
Rashad, who converted to Islam, was originally named Bobby Moore.
◆ Backshot: Rashad was photographed at an event in the East Room of the White House last Thursday to promote the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative introduced by President Barack Obama urging America’s businessmen, philanthropists and government leaders to join forces and place more young men of color on a successful path.
Frigid Fallon . . .
He’s not coming back!
Talk show host Jimmy Fallon may have been shellshocked when exiting freezing Lake Michigan on Sunday after his Polar Plunge for charity — but his teeth were already rattling before the Arctic dunk during a private chat with Sneed.
◆ Sneed to Fallon: “Mayor Emanuel tells me he wants you to become a regular at the Polar Plunge. Do you plan on coming back next year?”
◆ Fallon to Sneed: “Absolutely not!”
Frigid Fallon II . . .
After the Polar Plunge, Fallon removed his frozen suit and tie and gave it to Emanuel to bestow unto the legendary Billy Goat Tavern, which celebrates its 50th “No fries, chips” anniversary this week.
Obama drama . . .
Sneed is told it’s hush-hush, but the swells are going berserk in Key Largo, Fla., with word that President Obama and a cadre of pals will be staying in the posh, private enclave of Ocean Reef this weekend for gab and golf.
◆ Toff scoff: Sneed’s snoops claim the Obama retinue has rented five houses on the exclusive, uber-politically conservative compound, known as one of the most secure private communities in the country — and will be arriving in five helicopters.
◆ $$$$: The Ocean Reef Club, which requires a net worth of $35 million for members, has gotten the natty natives so riled up, according to a source, that the toffs will probably hide in their hedges.
A sad note . . .
Condolences to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf on the loss of his son, David, who died at 51 during his sleep Sunday night.
Oscar notes . . .
Lady Gaga may have attended Vanity Fair’s Oscar party Sunday night, but her actor beau, Taylor Kinney, who stars in the TV show “Chicago Fire,” was busy elsewhere: Attending the Polar Plunge on behalf of Chicago Special Olympics.
Sneedlings . . .
Tuesday’s birthdays: Chaz Bono, 45; Landon Donovan, 32; Patricia Heaton, 56, and Fred Lebed, 60.