WASHINGTON — President Biden’s White House celebration of the Louisiana State University women’s basketball team went awry Friday afternoon when freshman forward Samia Smith collapsed during his remarks.
The 80-year-old president was left standing awkwardly in his rostrum in the East Room for about six minutes as Smith was processed and removed from the room in a wheelchair.
“This isn’t the first time this has happened,” Biden said after the event resumed. White House guests have fainted in the past, and needed to get a check-up at a doctor’s office inside the Executive Mansion.
Smith, of DeSoto, Texas, played all 36 games for the Tigers, averaging 4.6 points per game as the team won its first-ever women’s basketball championship last month.
Biden hosted the team after uncertainty over whether players would appear after First Lady Jill Biden accidentally snubbed them by saying the University of Iowa runner-up should be invited.
Tigers forward Angel Reese — whom President Biden mistakenly called “Angela” on Friday before correcting himself — got a hug from Jill Biden in celebration, after he said last month that the team could miss the White House.
“I do not accept [Jill Biden’s] He apologized because, ‘I said what I said’…and like, you can’t take back some of the things you say,” Reese said on a podcast at the time. “[Iowa] can highlight. We’ll go to the Obamas. We’ll see Michelle. We’ll see Barack.”
Reese also claimed that Jill Biden was forbidden to visit the LSU players in the locker room before the championship game.
“Apparently you were supposed to come into our dressing room before the game but we said ‘no’,” Rees said. “You were supposed to come into our locker room and go into the Ewa locker room…but we said we didn’t want to. We didn’t want her to go into the locker room.”
The president tried to mend fences on Friday, praising Reese for making the cost of attending women’s games exceed the price of tickets for LSU’s men’s team.
As he spoke, Biden once again brushed aside his granddaughter Navy Roberts, 4, whom his son Hunter fathered out of wedlock, by telling players he has “four granddaughters.”
Biden hosted the event during tense debt-ceiling negotiations with House Republicans, which the Treasury Department says could lead to a federal debt default as early as next week.
Biden is set to leave Washington Friday night for Memorial Day weekend trips to Camp David and Delaware — despite House Democrats tearing him up anonymously for doing so.
The White House negotiator, Shalanda Young, attended the LSU event, as did Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA), a prominent GOP negotiator.
“Shalanda Young is there again, Director of Management and Budget, putting together a deal — hopefully,” Biden said. “[Young] He’s helping me right now with the important budget talks we’re in the middle of right now. But she said, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.”