He still has a long way to go before making college basketball in New York relevant again, but Steve Lavin has injected some excitement in the Big Apple during his first year with St. John’s – on and off the basketball court. As the Big East season draws out and the Red Storm fall further down the conference standings, casual St. John’s fans in New York might pay more attention to Lavin’s wife, Mary Ann Jarou, than the team. Dubbed the “Queen of Queens” by the New York tabloids, Jarou’s Hollywood looks will ensure that she and Lavin will be a Big Apple power couple for years to come.
Read up on the backstory of this stunning 33-year old and you wonder if you’ve stumbled across a movie cliche. The actress was born in Flint, MI, and grew up in Flushing, MI, a town with no more than 10,000 people (you can’t really get more midwestern than that). Growing up, like seemingly all would-be performers, Jarou sang for her church choir. She graduated from Central Michigan, worked at Disney World for a year and eventually wound up in Los Angeles trying to break into show business.
Just a few months later she met Lavin for the first time at a UCLA basketball game when he was still the Bruins head coach.
Said her grandpa in the Flushing Observer: “She told him she was from Michigan and he started talking about the Big Ten (Conference). She said, ‘Grandpa, I wouldn’t know the Big Ten from the Top 10.’ ”
Said Jarou in the New York Daily News: “When you come from the Midwest and then you come out here, it’s a whole different ballgame. He just seemed so nice and so genuine.”
Jarou’s beauty can’t be ignored but before Lavin even decided to pop the question, he sought the opinion of his greatest mentor: John Wooden.
Said Lavin in the Los Angeles Times: “He met all my girlfriends, but when he met Mary, he said she was the one.”
You can’t argue with the Wizard of Westwood.
Thirteen years her senior, Lavin and Jarou married in August 2007 in Capri, Italy.
Since 2004, Jarou has appeared on several television shows and TV movies; based on this clip below, she rarely plays any character more than “Attractive woman [insert number here].” The most popular shows she’s appeared on are “Entourage,” “King of Queens,” “ER,” “General Hospital” and “How I Met Your Mother.”
Once Lavin was named the new head coach at St. John’s, the press took notice when she arrived at his introductory press conference.
The day after he was introduced as the team’s new head coach, the New York Daily News wrote: “Meet Steve Lavin’s missus, the fairer half of the new king and queen of Queens. Mary Ann Jarou, the wife of St. John’s newly minted basketball coach, is undoubtedly the former UCLA court boss’ finest recruit.”
And there she was on the front page of the News with the headline, “Queen of Queens.”
In a city where the media thrives on athlete power couples like Kris & Anna Benson, Minka Kelly & Derek Jeter and Kris Humphries & Kim Kardashian, Lavin and Jarou now have the tabloids drooling over St. John’s basketball.
Despite all the sudden attention, based on quotes, Jarou seems genuinely excited to be in New York City, even if she’s forced to act as Lavin’s trophy wife.
Said Jarou in the Daily News: “I am beyond thrilled. I’m ecstatic. I love noise. I love energy and hustle and bustle. And I’m a big theater geek. I love Off-Broadway shows. I would actually prefer to live in New York over L.A.”
Sports fans might role their eyes at the public’s obsession with Steve Lavin’s wife and may wonder why she even matters in the grand scheme of covering St. John’s basketball. But the press is already buzzing about the Red Storm and the two have created a Hollywood feel around St. John’s of all places. That can only help make the once-proud program successful again.