Obama Gets 12 Stitches in Lip After Basketball Mishap

President Barack Obama got 12 stitches in his lip after being hit by an elbow yesterday during a basketball game with friends and family members.

Obama returned to a basketball court again today, this time as a spectator, for a game between Oregon State University and Howard University in Washington. First Lady Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson, is the coach of Oregon State’s team.

The stitches didn’t prevent the president from greeting other fans at Howard’s Burr Gymnasium or eating popcorn. He left with several minutes left to play in the game, in which Oregon State defeated Howard 84-74.

Obama played basketball for about 90 minutes at a gym at Fort McNair in Washington yesterday. The injury to the president’s lip occurred in the fifth of five games when Rey Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, turned to take a shot and elbowed Obama in the mouth.

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

Also playing were Obama’s personal aide, Reggie Love, 29, a former college basketball player at Duke University; Education Secretary Arne Duncan, 46, who played in college on the Harvard University team and professionally in Australia; and family members and friends in Washington for Thanksgiving, according to the White House statement.

Smaller Scar

Obama was treated by the White House medical unit, administration spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement. Doctors used a smaller filament, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar, according to an e-mailed White House statement.

Obama, 49, received a local anesthetic for the stitches, the statement said.

Obama played basketball regularly during the 2008 presidential campaign and had a basketball court installed on the South Lawn of the White House. In addition to playing at Fort McNair, he plays at other local sites, including the Interior Department.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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