Kevin Johnson's winning streak: NBA, Sacramento City Hall, Michelle Rhee's heart

A former NBA star and hard-charging mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson has met his match in his fiance, Michelle Rhee, D.C. public school system chancellor.
By Wil Haygood
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SACRAMENTO -- For months, Kevin Johnson walked around with an engagement ring wrapped in tissue. He wanted a sweet movielike moment to give it to his Michelle.

He and Michelle Rhee were in Seattle together, but the timing felt off. On another day in Sacramento, "I'd just gotten off a long flight," Rhee recalls. "Maybe he saw I was exhausted. Anyway, he didn't give me the ring then, either."

Johnson drew it out for so long that Rhee's daughters -- Starr, 11, and Olivia, 8 -- began asking him what that suspicious lump was.

Then on Oct. 30, after the couple saw "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Kennedy Center, Johnson suggested they catch some night air and visit the Capitol.

"I said, 'It's cold! What do you want to go over to the Capitol for?' " Rhee recalls.

I just want to go, Johnson answered. And there they were, two souls shivering, when Johnson dug into his pocket and popped the question.

But truth is, this is about as romantic as it gets between Johnson, a former NBA all-star and hard-charging first-term mayor of this Northern California city, and Rhee, the take-no-prisoners chancellor of the D.C. public school system.

They are not Romeo and Juliet. Let others get weak-kneed over love poems.

He's got homeless souls to get off the streets. She's got thousands of schoolchildren to rescue. Conferences and urban-themed seminars and books and position papers and think-tank get-togethers dominate their lives. This is the way they roll, Johnson and Rhee. There's work to be done.

Save Sacramento.

Save the schoolkids of D.C.

"We're both reformers," Johnson says proudly.

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