At Home With David & Rebecca Justice

Published March 5, 2012

Walking along a stone path through wrought iron gates into a landscaped courtyard, the strains of a Spanish guitar fill the air. This is Villa Justicia, the home of David Justice, the former outfielder and two-time World Series champion, and his wife, model-turned-designer Rebecca. Rebecca greets me at the massive carved wooden doors, and shows me around their six-bedroom home in The Heritage in Poway, built after the Witch Creek Fire burned their original home to the ground four years ago. The night before, the couple left with their three children to stay with family on the coast, taking little more than some clothes and David’s World Series rings.

“The first phone call I got was that the fire trucks were in our yard and everything was fine,” he recalls. “Literally, within 15 minutes of that conversation, I got a call saying ‘Your house is on the ground.'” Embers had found their way into the attic — the house was soon gone. The family lost everything.

Although devastated, Rebecca was determined that a new home would rise from the ashes. She set about building and designing a stucco-and-stone Italian-style villa, a project that turned into a way to express and share her talent. It is clear how passionate she is, down to the last detail. Everything, from the carved wood refrigerator, designed to look like an armoire and painted French blue, to the finials on leather chairs, bears her imprint. Inspired by Italian architecture, Old World castles and cathedrals, and religious art, Rebecca worked closely with designer Marie Cunning, CEO and founder of Andrew Morgan Furniture. “She brought my vision to life,” Rebecca says, so much so that the two are now collaborating on Rebecca Justice Collections — custom, handcrafted furniture and accessories made in San Diego and available online. “We have a great home and it’s because of what she has done,” notes David, who credits his wife’s eye for design and fashion. “I didn’t have anything to do with any part of this house,” he emphasizes with a laugh. “Someone had to write the check, let me tell you,” she teases. His favorite room, by the way, is his “office,” the cozy home movie theater, furnished with comfortable couches and a long brick counter where he talks on the phone.

David and Rebecca Justice, in the background, are surrounded by family at Villa Justicia: Rebecca's parents Dennis and Esperanza Villalobos, daughter Raquel and sons J.R. and D.J.

David and Rebecca Justice, in the background, are surrounded by family at Villa Justicia: Rebecca’s parents Dennis and Esperanza Villalobos, daughter Raquel and sons J.R. and D.J.

David, raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, met the Poway-born Rebecca at an Atlanta restaurant in 2000, the night before the Super Bowl. “He asked for my number,” she says. “I said ‘No. I’ll take yours.'” The next day, they watched the game together at his friend’s house, and soon were inseparable. They celebrated their 11th anniversary on the day of this interview.

Justice, a baseball champ, also plays a mean game of billiards. His wife says he's undefeated

Justice, a baseball champ, also plays a mean game of billiards. His wife says he’s undefeated

David, who retired from baseball after 14 seasons, was portrayed in the critically acclaimed movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, which chronicled the “magical year” in 2002 when the Oakland Athletics won 20 consecutive games, setting an American League record. While David calls the movie “well-produced,” he also says dramatic license was taken in the telling. “None of my scenes actually happened,” he says. For example, David says general manager Billy Beane never had to coax him to be the team leader; that role was understood when the veteran player joined the A’s. Even so, David says: “It’s cool to be in a movie,” a part of cinematic history. David was played by Stephen Bishop, an actor who was a former big leaguer himself, and who is said to have looked up to David, a few years his senior. While the Justices attended the movie’s glitzy premieres, their lives center not on Hollywood, but the rolling hills of Poway where they raise their three children, coach sports teams, and give back to the community.

The dining room

The dining room

They hosted a shopping benefit in December to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It is a cause that hits close to home: 12-year-old J.R., David Justice Jr., was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure. The family has learned to cope, and J.R., who wants to become a pro athlete like his dad, is managing well. He’s a star quarterback for St. Michael’s School in Poway, and the Del Norte Youth Football League, and is also on the honor roll. “We try to impress upon our son that ‘while you have diabetes,'” says David, “it doesn’t mean you can’t do everything that you want to do.”

The living room has Rebecca's favorite, the hand-carved bookcase, painted blue and trimmed in red and gold leaf

The living room has Rebecca’s favorite, the hand-carved bookcase, painted blue and trimmed in red and gold leaf

The Justices’ tight-knit family also includes nine-year-old Dionisio (D.J.), seven-year-old Raquel, and five dogs: Lola, Sofie, Fresa, Bentley, and Nico, a tea cup poodle with a ferocious bark that David calls “killer.” Rebecca’s parents, Dennis and Esperanza Villalobos, have their own comfortable quarters in the home. Frequent guests are Rebecca’s brother Marcos Villalobos and sister-in-law, Laura, with whom she is launching Rebecca & Laura, a “fun, funky, and fresh” children’s clothing line.

The family spends leisure time in the tropical backyard with a beach-entry swimming pool, Jacuzzi with waterfall, and a swim-up palapa bar. There’s a barbecue area, a fire-pit surrounded by benches and rocking chairs, and an expansive outdoor living room. A playground, batting cage, trampoline, and basketball court provide plenty of recreation. The family also hikes on the surrounding trails or visits neighbors in their UTV.

The Justice family vacations in their own Cabo-style backyard and the outdoor room, overlooking the pool, has plenty of space for entertaining

The Justice family vacations in their own Cabo-style backyard and the outdoor room, overlooking the pool, has plenty of space for entertaining

David and Rebecca attend L.A. Clippers games where they root for Mo Williams, who lives nearby. While the Justices have vacationed in Italy, Las Vegas, and Cabo, their favorite destination is their own home. Clearly, Rebeccca did it justice.   ANDREA NAVERSEN

The backyard and pool

The backyard and pool

Photography by Vincent Knakal