Obama needs stitches after hoops injury

Published Nov. 26, 2010 12:00 a.m. ET

President Barack Obama received 12 stitches in his lip Friday after being inadvertently hit by another basketball player’s elbow during a holiday game with friends and family, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the stitches were administered by the White House Medical Unit in the doctor's office located on the ground floor of the White House.

The president, 49, was given a local anesthetic while receiving the stitches. The Medical Unit used a smaller filament, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar.

In several pictures taken after the game at Washington’s Ft. McNair, the president could be seen holding something small and white — perhaps a tissue or napkin — to his lower lip as he walked toward his car.

The incident reportedly occurred in the fifth of five games when the unidentified player turned into Obama, who was playing defense, to take a shot and his elbow hit the president in the mouth.

Other players — none of whom, the White House was quick to say, owned the elbow in question — were Avery Robinson, the president’s nephew, Reggie Love, an Obama aide and former Duke basketball star, and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.

Obama returned from the game about 11:15 am Friday.


The president was later spotted in a White House window looking out as Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha received an 18 1/2 foot Douglas fir from a Pennsylvania farm that will become the official White House Christmas tree.

Obama had an ice pack on his lip.

His injury was far from the first suffered by a president while in office. His predecessor, George W. Bush, fell off a mountain bike at his Crawford, Tex., Ranch in 2004 and suffered scrapes and scratches. Two years earlier, he briefly lost consciousness after choking on a pretzel.

Other presidential medical mishaps included Bill Clinton popping out his right knee after tripping on a step in Florida in 1997 and President George H.W. Bush falling ill and collapsing at a state dinner in Japan in 1992.