President Joe Biden applauds as the 2023 NCAA national champion LSU women’s basketball team is recognized during an event honoring the team in the East Room of the White House, 26 May 2023, in Washington, DC.
The 2023 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball champions made their celebratory trips to the White House on Friday as President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden congratulated both teams on their seasons.
The women’s basketball champions, the Louisiana State University Tigers, were the first to be honoured, as the Bidens praised their accomplishments and the example they set.
“You didn’t just play basketball, you didn’t just make history, you showed us – girls and boys, women and men – what it means to be a champion. hope and joy, a way to find that fire within ourselves. And above all, the chance to see you high. Thank you for giving us these gifts,” the first lady said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke at the celebratory ceremony, congratulating the Tigers on their first-ever championship and applauding them for their inspiring example.
“Throughout your record breaking season, you have shown the world who you are. You are leaders. You are role models, and of course you are champions. Tigers, we know that because of your courage, your determination and your intelligence, you are a game-changer. When you step onto the court, you inspire so many people across our country and, as we talked about earlier, you inspire people you may never meet,” said Harris.
During his remarks, President Biden celebrated the team’s record achievements and called on the country to support women’s athletics.
“My friends, we must support women’s sports not only during the championships, but all year round and in every season. To appear in person, to watch on television, to create more programs, sponsors and scholarships, as well as sponsorships and opportunities for millions of women and girls to achieve their dreams and know they can do literally anything,” Biden said.
Angel Reese, center, stands with other members of the LSU women’s basketball team during an event honoring the 2023 NCAA National Champion LSU Women’s Basketball Team in the East Room from the White House, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Washington, DC.
Later in the day, the Bidens hosted NCAA men’s basketball champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies, for their own celebration.
“This team is proof that there is no quitting at UConn, just like there is no quitting in America – none. There’s nothing we can’t do when we believe that we can do it if we do it together. And that’s exactly what you’ve all done. You’ve stood up. And that’s what sport and this country is all about: opportunities Biden said.
The president also joked about a one-on-one between LSU star Angel Reese and his Huskies cousin Jordan Hawkins.
“So I put a basketball on the south lawn. There’s a court there by the tennis courts and, Jordan, your uncle thinks he can take you too. So I just want you to know that after this we’re all going to come down to see this one-on-one game,” Biden said.
During the LSU celebration, the first lady and Reese hugged after the jersey presentation. There had been public drama surrounding the visit after the first lady suggested that LSU’s championship opponents, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, would also be invited. Reese took issue with the comments, to which Biden reverted shortly after, and said she and her team would not travel to the White House. A few days later, Reese said she would attend.
During his remarks celebrating LSU, the president also welcomed some of the administration officials and members of Congress present at the event, including several of the various White House and Capitol Hill negotiators who are working on a deal. to raise the country’s debt ceiling.
Two from Louisiana — Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Rep. Garrett Graves, one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s top negotiators — were on hand to celebrate LSU.
Biden noted Graves’ presence alongside other lawmakers in attendance and warmly greeted Young, who he said is “hopefully mounting a deal.”
“She represents Baton Rouge and Clinton, Louisiana, and now helps lead the critical budget discussions that we are in right now,” Biden said. “But she said, I’m leaving the talks to be here.”
Both Graves and Young hail from the Baton Rouge area and have worked together before. Young’s parents are Graves voters.
Proceedings were delayed for minutes after a player on the risers behind Biden appeared to faint or pass out during his remarks. After a few minutes, she was able to stand up and the people in the room clapped. She was then taken out of the room in a wheelchair.
“Like I said, this isn’t the first time this has happened, not to her but to a lot of people who are rising on this stage,” Biden said.
This story has been updated with additional developments.