Image: President Barack Obama
Pablo Martinez Monsivais  /  AP
President Barack Obama, with an ice pack over his mouth, looks out the second floor window of the White House Friday during the arrival of the official White House Christmas tree in Washington.
NBC News and news services
updated 11/26/2010 7:52:54 PM ET 2010-11-27T00:52:54

The White House has identified the person whose elbow injured President Barack Obama during a pickup game of basketball on Friday as Rey Decerega, who works for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Obama needed 12 stitches in his upper lip after being hit by Decerega's elbow during the game.

The White House also released a statement from Decerega, NBC News said: "I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport. I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning. I'm sure he'll be back out on the court again soon."

Earlier, NBC News reported what White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, "After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit."

Gibbs did not release the names of the people playing with the president.

Obama received the stitches under local anesthesia in the doctor's office on the ground floor White House after he returned home.

    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California
    6. Christie acknowledges federal subpoena
    7. Obama says Fox News's O'Reilly 'absolutely' unfair in extended interview
    8. Christie security officer hit with shoplifting charges
  1. More politics
    1. Obama's 2nd year
      AP
    2. Political Cartoons
    3. BLTWY: Political news, photos and gossip

The president had gone to nearby Fort McNair to indulge in a game of basketball, one of his favorite athletic pursuits. It was a five-on-five contest involving family and friends. Among the players were Obama's nephew, Avery Robinson, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Reggie Love, Obama's personal assistant, who played at Duke University.

The White House said the injury happened during their fifth and final game when Decerega turned to take a shot and hit Obama, who was playing defense, in the mouth with his elbow.

Image: Barack Obama
Pete Souza  /  The White House file
President Barack Obama plays basketball with personal aide Reggie Love at St Bartholomew's Church in New York City, Sept. 23, 2009.

Obama emerged from the building after about 90 minutes of play, wearing short-sleeve T-shirt and gym pants, and was seen dabbing at his mouth with what appeared to be a wad of gauze. A few hours later, reporters who had gathered on the White House driveway for the arrival of the Christmas Tree saw the president in an upstairs window, pressing something white against his mouth, pressing an ice pack against his mouth before he stood and walked away.

Obama's motorcade obeyed all traffic stops, the custom for nonofficial trips, during the return to the White House.

In February, Obama, 49, was deemed to be in excellent health and fit for duty after his first medical checkup as president. Doctors reported then that Obama had yet to kick a smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee and should make dietary changes to reduce his cholesterol levels.

Obama was told to return for another physical exam in August 2011, after he turns 50. In addition to regular pickup basketball games, Obama is also an avid golfer.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

Obama had no public events scheduled during the long holiday weekend.

His stitched lip, however, could make for some interesting small talk on Tuesday, when Obama is to meet with the congressional leadership. The session originally was announced for Nov. 18, but was delayed after Republicans, who will control the House and increase their numbers in the Senate come January, said they couldn't accommodate the president.

Medical help is always nearby for U.S. presidents. A doctor or nurse is stationed at the White House around the clock and accompanies the president in his motorcade and aboard Air Force One.

Recent presidents have had a number of medical scares.

George W. Bush choked on a pretzel and briefly lost consciousness, falling and hurting his head. Bill Clinton had surgery and used crutches for months for a torn tendon in his knee when he stumbled on steps at the Florida home of golf pro Greg Norman.

The elder Bush, George H.W. Bush, was hospitalized for an erratic heartbeat while jogging at Camp David, a problem later diagnosed as a thyroid ailment. The senior Bush also collapsed at a state dinner in Tokyo, which the White House blamed on an intestinal flu.

Jimmy Carter fainted briefly while jogging near Camp David. Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest in a 1981 assassination attempt.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 69, has had five heart attacks since age 37. He had surgery this year to install a pump to help his heart work. Cheney said he has congestive heart failure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Insult to injury: Presidents can’t hide mishaps

  1. Closed captioning of: Insult to injury: Presidents can’t hide mishaps

    >>> the president of the united states taking in a college basketball game today showing he hasn't sworn off the game entirely after getting that elbow to the face yesterday. for this president or any other a minor injury is major news. here's nbc's mike viqueira.

    >> reporter: accidents can and do happen to all of us, even presidents. the difference is for a modern president.

    >> in stitches the press ices down an injury.

    >> reporter: mr. obama's split lip quickly became news on a slow holiday weekend. but it's only the latest in a long line of presidential mishaps caught on camera. many are embarrassing. and all are now part of american lore. president ford fell going down and up the stairs of air force one. jimmy carter got light headed while running a 10-k. and bill clinton an avid golfer, fell and injured his knee at the home of tour pro greg norman . there was george h.w. bush throwing up on the japanese prime minister in tokyo. and his son had his share of accidents. george w. bush choked on a pretzel while watching football, passed out and landed on his face leaving a nasty mark.

    >> chew before you swallow. listen to your mother.

    >> reporter: even they happen in private, news of presidential illnesses and accidents become public sooner rather than later. but before the internet, cable news or even television, the white house and press kept very big secrets like the is he verpt of fdr's polio and his frequent use of a wheelchair.

    >> and there was an unwritten rule among the photographers in the press corps that they would never show him in his wheelchair, never show him with his crutches, never being helped to walk if he couldn't walk on his own.

    >> reporter: now president obama 's split lip is front page news. one journalist who has faced him on the court says his game can be physical.

    >> there was one incident i'm thinking of where he essentially bodychecked a guy in midair and the guy tumbled to the ground.

    >> reporter: before yesterday some suspected that mr. obama was getting off easy.

    >> i mean, come on, nobody is going to give the president a hard foul with the secret service standing there.

    >> reporter: but in sports, as in politics, injuries are all just part of the game . mike viqueira, nbc news, the white

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments