President Joe Biden claps as the 2023 NCAA national champion LSU women’s basketball team is recognized at an event honoring the team in the East Room of the White House, May 26, 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 champion Louisiana State University Tigers were honored first, while the Bidens praised their performance and example.
“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 champions. You gave us hope and joy, a way to find that fire within ourselves. And most of all the chance to see you rise. Thank you for giving us those gifts,” the first lady said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke at the celebration ceremony and congratulated the Tigers on their first-ever championship and applauded their inspiring example.
“During your record-breaking season, you showed the world who you are. You are leaders. You are role models and of course you are champions. Tigers, we know that through your perseverance, determination and brilliance you have changed the game. When you go to court, you inspire so many people in our country and as we talked about before, you inspire people you may never meet,” Harris said.
During his remarks, President Biden celebrated the team’s record-breaking achievements and called on the country to support women’s athletics.
“People, we have to support women’s sport, not just during the championships, but all year and every season. Appearing in person, watching television, creating more programs and sponsors and scholarships, and sponsorships and opportunities for millions of women and girls to achieve their dreams and know that they can literally do anything,” Biden said.
Angel Reese, center, stands with fellow members of the LSU women’s basketball team at an event honoring the 2023 NCAA national champion LSU women’s basketball team in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Washington, DC.
Later in the day, the Bidens welcomed the NCAA men’s basketball champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies, to their own celebration.
“This team is proof that there is no quitting in UConn, just as there is no quitting in America — none. There’s nothing we can’t do if we believe we can if we do it together. And that’s exactly what you all did. You got up. And that’s what sport and this country is all about: opportunity,” Biden said.
The president also joked about a one-on-one showdown between LSU star Angel Reese and her cousin on the Huskies, Jordan Hawkins.
“So I set up a basketball on the South Lawn. There’s a court over there at the tennis courts and, Jordan, your uncle thinks he can take you too. So I want you to know that after this, we’re all going to go down and see that one-on-one game,” Biden said.
During the LSU celebration, the first lady and Reese hugged after the jersey presentation. There had been some public drama surrounding the visit after the first lady suggested that LSU championship opponents, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, also be invited. Reese disagreed with the comments, which Biden backtracked shortly after, saying she and her team would not be visiting the White House. Days later, Reese said she would attend.
During his remarks in honor of LSU, the president also welcomed some government officials and members of Congress who attended the event, including several of the various White House and Capitol Hill negotiators who are working toward a deal to lower the country’s debt ceiling. to increase.
Two from Louisiana – Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Rep. Garrett Graves, one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief negotiators – were on hand to celebrate LSU.
Noting Graves’ presence alongside other lawmakers in attendance, Biden warmly applauded Young, who he said is “hopefully closing a deal.”
“She represents Baton Rouge and Clinton, Louisiana, and is now helping to lead the critical budget discussions we are now in the middle of,” Biden said. “But she said, I’m leaving the talks to be here.”
Graves and Young are both from the Baton Rouge area and have worked together before. Young’s parents are Graves’ voters.
Proceedings were delayed a few minutes after a player on the riser boards behind Biden passed out or passed out during his remarks. After a few minutes, she was able to get up and the people in the room applauded. She was then taken out of the room in a wheelchair.
“Like I said, this is not the first time this has happened, not with her but with a lot of people standing on this podium,” Biden said.
This story has been updated with additional developments.