Obama elbowed, gets 12 stitches after basketball game

Friday, November 26, 2010

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama received 12 stitches in his upper lip after being socked in the mouth by an errant elbow during a holiday basketball game with friends and family, the White House said in a statement.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the surgery was done Friday at the White House. Doctors hoped to leave a lesser scar by using smaller stitches than usual.

Obama was playing a five-on-five game in the morning at the local military base Fort McNair with Reggie Love, an adviser and former university basketball player, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and members of the president’s family, which flew into Washington for Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Obama was struck in the mouth during the last of five games while playing defence against another player trying to take a shot.

The White House initially shielded the man who caused the injury but later named him as Rey Decerega, director of programmes for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

In a statement issued by the White House, Decerega did not actually apologise.

“I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport,” he said. “I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning. I’m sure he’ll be back out on the court again soon.”

An avid basketball player and fan, Obama still plays regularly and had a court installed at the White House after he took office in January 2009.

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