President Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Friday welcomed the Louisiana State University (LSU) women’s basketball team to the White House to celebrate their recent national championship.
The ceremony was briefly interrupted after Sa’Myah Smith, a forward on the team, appeared to pass out while standing on risers on stage in the East Room. Proceedings were delayed for roughly six minutes while medical personnel attended to Smith.
“She’s OK. It’s happened lots of times,” Biden told attendees.
Coach Kim Mulkey also assured those in the audience that Smith was fine, but was getting checked out as a precaution.
The Bidens and Vice President Harris praised the LSU team for their dominant championship run earlier in the year and for helping to grow the popularity of the women’s game.
“Folks, we need to support women’s sports not just during championship runs but the entire year, and every season,” the president said.
Biden noted that visiting the White House had become a habit for Mulkey, who won three championships as head coach at Baylor before winning her first with LSU this year.
“Isn’t this getting old for you?” he quipped.
Friday’s visit came after some initial controversy in the wake of the team’s championship victory in early April.
The first lady, who attended the championship game between LSU and the Iowa Hawkeyes, suggested that the Iowa women should also be invited to the White House because of the high quality of the game, which set viewership records. Biden’s office walked back her suggestion the following day.
LSU star forward Angel Reese initially said that she wouldn’t accept Biden’s apology. She also had said the LSU team refused to meet with the first lady before the championship game, noting their frustration that the president had chosen LSU to lose in the second round of the tournament in his bracket.
Reese joined the rest of the team in attending Friday’s event.
Others in attendance included Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young, a Louisiana native. The two are leading negotiations between the White House and House Republicans over a budget agreement that would allow lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default in the coming days.
Biden recognized Young in the crowd, saying she was “putting together a deal, hopefully…but she said, ‘I’m leaving the talks to be here.’”
—Updated at 3:34 p.m.
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